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Youngstown mayor criticizes firefighters’ union, says cuts to fire department not finalized

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Union leaders said they did not see it as a typical union-management meeting and were concerned it was something serious

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WKBN) – Miscommunication between the City of Youngstown’s administration and the fire department was a focal point of discussion at Wednesday night’s city council meeting.

Youngstown Mayor Tito Brown told city council that closing the fire station at Elm Street and Madison Avenue, along with the elimination of three battalion chiefs, is not a sure thing.

“Possible changes right there. Those are possible changes and city council, as anyone knows, the only way to make those changes is with your help and with your approval,” Brown said.

The mayor also talked about Tuesday’s meeting with the firefighters’ union, after which union leaders announced the station closing and job cuts.

Mayor Brown said he started the union-management meetings to build trust.

“We can’t have, every time we have a conversation, going to the media and have the conversation happen. If we’re going to build relationships, that’s got to be built on trust. The trust was broken yesterday,” Brown said.

Union secretary Tracy Wright said when they were summoned to Tuesday’s meeting, they asked for an agenda because there has always been one.

“And we were told that they were not allowed to provide us… We were not to be informed what the meeting was to be about, so we were blinded by this information,” Wright said.

Union leaders said they did not see it as a typical union-management meeting and were concerned it was something serious.

Those leaders said they were told cuts to the department were happening, not that they were possible.

“That is what we were informed, that there were going to be cuts, the three battalion chiefs and that Station 7 is going to be closed,” Wright said.

It’s the mayor’s decision to close a fire station, but council must approve the elimination of battalion chiefs.

Councilman Julius Oliver questioned why council was never told cuts were even being discussed.

“So, I’m asking, moving forward, that we engage our council on decisions, especially decisions as important as closing a fire station,” Oliver said.

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