CORNER BROOK The president of the Corner Brook firefighters union has been suspended over a newspaper advertisement than ran last week.
Geoff Sparkes received a one-week suspension — the equivalent of four shifts — while three other local union executive members received warning letters.
The International Association of Fire Fighters (IAFF) and the Corner Brook Fire Fighters Association Local 1222 will fight back against what they are calling an unjustified suspension.
Sparkes, president of Local 1222, would not comment on the suspension when contacted this week. Dave Burry, vice-president of International Association of Fire Fighters (IAFF) 15th district, also declined comment. However, later Thursday, a press release was issued.
Burry stated the city’s actions will be grieved, and the union will use whatever other legal channels necessary to fight back. The action is considered an attempt to prevent the union from exercising its right to represent its members.
“The Corner Brook Fire Fighters Association has a right and an obligation to participate in the discussion about public and firefighter safety,” the release stated. “We’re fighting back against this injustice, and we have no doubt we will be successful in the end. The city has no business telling the union what it can and cannot speak about when it comes to representing its members’ interests.
“That should be very clear.”
Corner Brook Mayor Neville Greeley also would not discuss the situation Thursday, saying he does not speak about personnel matters with anybody other than senior management.
The Corner Brook Firefighters Association took out an ad in The Western Star, which appeared online and in the print edition. It was entitled “Five questions to ask your Corner Brook candidates.”
The focus revolved around firefighter safety, the services provided by the department, the cost of the department to the city, re-investment into the force and asking the question: “Why is the Mayor and Council arguing that firefighting is costly on a per capita basis?”
It concluded with a message to the voters: “During this election, please vote to protect us, so we can protect you.”