Michigan justices rule against firefighters' unions

By Chris Rizo | Jul 23, 2008

Michigan Supreme Court building

LANSING, Mich. (Legal Newsline)-The Michigan Supreme Court on Wednesday overturned lower court decisions that barred firefighter layoffs in Detroit and Pontiac.

The state high court ruled 4-3 that an Oakland County judge erred in granting an injunction in 2006 that prevented the city of Pontiac from laying off 28 firefighters until their union's lawsuit against the city was resolved.

The Pontiac Fire Fighters Union Local 376 argued the layoffs would affect the community negatively by increasing response times to emergency calls.

The Supreme Court majority found that the safety of city residents would not be compromised by the layoffs.

Justice Robert Young Jr. wrote for the majority that the firefighters' union showed no "irreparable harm" from the proposed layoffs.

He was joined by Chief Justice Clifford Taylor, Maura Corrigan and Stephen Markman.

In a separate ruling, the high court ruled 6-1 against a restraining order that prevented Detroit from laying off firefighters.

In 2005, the Detroit Fire Fighters Association sued the city after Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick announced layoff plans that included furloughing 65 firefighters, demoting 10 battalion chiefs and reducing the number of battalions from eight to five.

The justices remanded the case back to a trial judge to consider whether there would be negative effects from the layoffs.

From Legal Newsline: Reach reporter Chris Rizo at chrisrizo@legalnewsline.com.

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