State increases ACFD work week by 14 hours

The state increase the Atlantic City Fire Department’s work week by 14 hours with less than 48 hours’ notice, the fire union said in a statement.
Despite the fire chief asking for eight days’ notice on any shift changes, the notice came 4 p.m. Friday that the new 56-hour work week would begin Sunday, Union President Bill DiLorenzo said.
The firefighters have been battling the state in court about changes to their contract that would cut pay and personnel.
Superior Court Judge Julio Mendez has put a stay on any personnel cuts but has allowed for other changes as the case winds its way through the court system.
“After 20 percent pay cuts, decreases in health care coverage and losing 25 percent of its firefighting force, the state has given the remaining Atlantic City firefighters less than 48 hours notice to move to a new shift that will change their current 42-hour work week into a 56-hour work week,” the union statement read.
There is a hearing set for June 26 with Mendez to discuss the schedule change.
The union has said the change doesn’t save any money, while increasing hours by almost 35 percent annually.
“We asked for more time to discuss the different schedules that were being proposed by the state,” DiLorenzo said. “Increasing the work week in one of the busiest fire departments in NJ by 35 percent, while simultaneously implementing severe pay and benefit cuts is having serious effects on the mental well being of firefighters.
“The states own fire expert, Don Huber, warned the state of his serious concerns about this type of implementation, but was later let go by the NJ DCA.”
The current budget of $2 million is lower than the one in 1985, despite 5,000 more calls, he said.
“How can these drastic changes be reasonable, and maintain the same level of safety as the stabilization act demands?” DiLorenzo asked.
There were no state representatives available to comment Saturday.