Firefighters win jobs back

STEUBENVILLE – Five laid-off city firefighters will be offered their jobs back after the Civil Service Commission on Thursday agreed with a factfinder’s ruling citing the city’s inadequate notice of layoff.

Attorney Joe Corabi recommended the layoffs of Justin Boley, Kristopher Dight, Michael Bess, Terence Cooper and Chad Smith be voided and they should be reinstated as city firefighters effective April 1.

“Although we don’t agree with the Civil Service Commission decision, we will not appeal the ruling. The city will provide the five firefighters with the opportunity to return to work and we will review our options going forward,” stated Law Director S. Gary Repella Thursday.

According to Civil Service Commission Chairwoman Delores Wiggins, “the lay-off letter issued by City Manager Cathy Davison did not provide the 14-day lay-off notice required by the Ohio Revised Code. The Civil Service Commission does follow the Ohio Revised Code. We have no choice but to rule the five firefighters should be reinstated. We made our decision after meeting with Joe Corabi who skillfully and diligently studied the Ohio Revised Code.

“Dennis Haines, representing the International Association of Firefighters Local 228, noted in his arguments Monday the case wasn’t about city funds but was about the timing of the lay-off notice,” related Wiggins.

Wiggins and Commission member Jerry Barilla listened to arguments Monday during a 90-minute hearing.

They met with Corabi Thursday afternoon to review his findings of fact and recommendations.

Commission member Rob D’Anniballe recused himself from the proceedings because he serves as a labor negotiator for the city.

Corabi cited a case from Warren where firefighters were laid off without a 14-day notice and quoted from the Ohio Administrative Code, “each employee to be laid off shall be given advance written notice by the appointing authority. If hand delivered, such notice shall be given at least 14 calendar days before the effective date of lay off or displacement and the day of hand delivery shall be the first day of the 14-day period. The phrase ‘notice shall be given at least 14 calendar days’ is mandatory as demonstrated by the legislative use of the word shall.”

“Since the notice was received on March 26 and the lay off occurred April 1 only five days elapsed from the notice of lay off being served on the firefighters, therefore the notice did not comply with the Ohio Administrative Code,” wrote Corabi.