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  • FDNY locker controversy

    FOX NEWS: In a stunning crackdown, the FDNY has demanded that all personal decorations, including flags and pictures of colleagues killed on Sept. 11, 2001, be removed from lockers, WCBSTV reported.

    The controversy began two weeks ago when a sexually explicit slogan was reported at Engine 230 in Brooklyn. In response, FDNY Commissioner Nicholas Scoppetta banned all decorations, including American flags, "Support Our Troops" stickers, pictures of family and Mass cards.
    Stephen Cassidy, the president of the Uniformed Firefighters Association, says the department has gone too far.

    "We're tired of being treated like children," he told WCBS. "It will not continue. If we have to take legal action we will."

    The union has retained civil rights attorney Ron Kuby to fight the regulation. Kuby once famously defended associates of the Gambino Crime Family and once handled a controversial plea deal for alleged mobster John Gotti Jr.
    But the FDNY is sticking to its guns.

    "No city agency should permit the work place to display inappropriate stuff," said Mylan Denerstein, the FDNY's deputy commissioner for legal affairs.

    The union says it plans to give every firefighter a flag decal to display on their lockers.

    I don't know what was put up in E230 but this is the most un-american thing I have heard yet today. Any opinions on this.
    J
    It's not the size of the dog in the fight, it's the size of the fight in the dog.

  • #2
    Article from Newsday:

    FDNY, union lock horns over locker displays
    BY EMI ENDO
    NEWSDAY STAFF WRITER

    January 11, 2007

    A city firefighters union Wednesday criticized the Fire Department for treating its members "like unruly high school students" by enforcing a rule against decorating firehouse lockers.

    "We're tired of being treated like children," said Steve Cassidy, the president of the Uniformed Firefighters Association, at a news conference yesterday morning on the steps of City Hall. Cassidy said the ban includes American flags or funeral prayer cards for firefighters killed in the line of duty.

    In response, department officials said they were concerned only with getting rid of anything sexist, racist or otherwise offensive.

    Mylan Denerstein, the deputy commissioner for legal affairs, called the union's public outcry "disingenuous" because the administration told union leaders at a contract negotiation meeting last week they would not require U.S. flags or prayer cards to be removed.

    Cassidy said that was "absolutely not true" and that department superiors began scraping personal items such as flags off lockers two weeks ago. If the administration wished to modify its regulation, Cassidy asked, "Why don't they put whatever changes they're making in writing?"

    The rule is black and white: Lockers must be "free of all material," according to the regulation. But the administration said it would use discretion in enforcement, refusing to say whether other kinds of items -- such as family photographs or other kinds of flags -- would be permitted.

    Violators are handled on a case-by-case basis, according to the department.

    Cassidy and union attorney Ronald Kuby said they were considering going to court over the policy, which they called unconstitutional. The policy has been on the books for 18 months but only recently enforced.

    "The citizenry trusts the judgment of firefighters to make life and death decisions every day, but the department does not trust its firefighters with the simple task of maintaining a locker," Kuby wrote in a letter to Fire Commissioner Nicholas Scoppetta dated Tuesday.

    The union plans to distribute 10,000 U.S. flag decals to its members Thursday and encourage them to put them on their lockers.

    The department says a firehouse is a workplace like any other that must abide by federal anti-discrimination laws. While the union acknowledges it is a workplace, Cassidy said a locker is the closest thing a firefighter has to a desk and is "a firefighter's private space in a firehouse."

    Last November, the superior officers union urged its members to remove any "inappropriate" materials from the walls, tables or bathrooms in anticipation of regular inspections to ensure the department is complying with equal employment opportunity laws.

    Recent inspections have resulted in items being confiscated and the superior officers being held responsible, according to a note written in November by Capt. Peter L. Gorman, president of the Uniformed Fire Officers Association.

    In 2005, four supervisors were penalized for failing to prevent the sexual harassment of a female firefighter at a firehouse in Woodside. The harassment reportedly included the open display of pictures of nude women.
    Absolutely idiotic, IMO, to make flag decals, etc be removed from the lockers.
    Last edited by Nine3Probie; 01-11-2007, 08:22 AM.

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    • #3
      Just read a story that American Flags, Prayer cards, and something else was not allowed.

      It amazes me that a department as big as FDNY even has time to worry about things like this.
      "This thread is being closed as it is off-topic and not related to the fire industry." - Isn't that what the Off Duty forum was for?

      Comment


      • #4
        Originally posted by mcfd45 View Post
        I don't know what was put up in E230 but this is the most un-american thing I have heard yet today. Any opinions on this.
        J
        IMHO, there's nothing "un-American" about it. Managment hunting flies with shotguns is about as American as you can get...

        It's arguably overkill but I don't see where it's not within the department's rights. They own the lockers; they determine what is and is not an acceptable use.

        The shame of it is that somebody didn't police their own backyard and keep the decorations under control. If they led to a sexual harassment complaint then the department was obligated to respond. "Carpet Bombing" may not be the best response but it's certainly the easiest from the management point of view: It's ultimtely more practical to say, "No Decorations; No Exceptions," than it is to dedicate time and effort to creating and enforcing rules for acceptable and unacceptable decorations. If they just say, "No Decorations; No Exceptions," than no decorations it is.

        The long and short of it is that employees aren't entitled to "decorate" their employer's property any more than employers are entitled to decorate their employee's property. There isn't even remotely a "rights" issue here.

        The union plans to distribute 10,000 U.S. flag decals to its members Thursday and encourage them to put them on their lockers.
        And they wonder why thy're being "treated like children"? :roll:
        Last edited by DeputyMarshal; 01-11-2007, 08:32 AM.
        "Nemo Plus Voluptatis Quam Nos Habant"
        sigpic
        The Code is more what you'd call "guidelines" than actual rules.

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        • #5
          Originally posted by DeputyMarshal View Post
          IMHO, there's nothing "un-American" about it.:
          9/11 is being forgotten everywhere, I would hope it wouldn't be forgotten in the FDNY. But instead of saying no to porn they are saying no to everything. I support the union and hope they win this because it is un-American. Someone is saying "take down that flag," and it isn't american. Nuts.
          J
          It's not the size of the dog in the fight, it's the size of the fight in the dog.

          Comment


          • #6
            hmmmm, a phrase that has something about a baby and bathwater sounds about right here.

            DM I'm going to have to disagree with you here, from a legal aspect lockers are treated as the employee's private space and typically requires a search warrant to search it. I'd think if the employer cannot randomly search the lockers it is reasonable to assume an employee can decorate the interior however they like so long as it doesn't cause harm to the locker. Now the exterior is another issue but banning all decoration seems pretty petty, is FDNY up for another contract negotiation?

            If this is typical of FDNY's management it sounds like they need more to do, I'd suggest NIMS training.
            Last edited by NonSurfinCaFF; 01-11-2007, 10:26 AM.

            Comment


            • #7
              We have a policy that is somewhat reasonable, no nudity or porn, it has to be on the inside of the locker and for the most part the locker needs to be left shut. I don't know what straw broke the camels back at the FDNY but how do you explain a "kill the sand N****" sticker on a locker to a group of anyone on a tour of the station. Their is no explanation and that stuff happens. I agree the captain of any house should have policed it but anyone in this job knows how it is.

              Just a question are there any areas off limits to the public at your place? By us the whole house is shown on tours so we have to be a bit more dilligent about policing ourselves.

              Comment


              • #8
                Originally posted by NonSurfinCaFF View Post
                from a legal aspect lockers are treated as the employee's private space and typically requires a search warrant to search it.
                IANAL, but I would imagine a search warrant would only be needed by the cops before searching a locker. The employer can do whatever they want with the lockers they own, including enforcing any restrictions they see fit to invoke. In fact, when a search warrant is saught after by the Cops, it is against the Employer, NOT the employee.

                In this case I agree that there is a certain amount of overkill by the Administration. As was mentioned earlier this is probably more case of "do what's easier/cheeper". On the subject that its unpatriotic to force them to take down flags, what about Donald Trump? Most had different opinions when that was up for debate here.

                I don't agree with what FDNY administration is doing. I think it is lazy, and overkill but it is also within their perogotive as empoyers to do so. Would this be News if the lockers weren't at a firehouse?
                So you call this your free country
                Tell me why it costs so much to live
                -3dd

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                • #9
                  Yes it would, you hear about it at schools all of the time.
                  I would never assume that your locker is your property, a closed lunch box, gym bag, etc sure, but not the locker itself. For the most part everything in that locker belongs to the department, uniforms, badges, hats, tee shirts, class A. What do you guys have that isn't theirs in the locker underwear, socks, and a tooth brush?

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    "Kill the Sand N******?"

                    ADSNWFLD, maybe I missed something, but the article says that there was an arguably sexually explicit sticker at a FDNY house. Where do you get this line about killing "sand n******?" It's one thing to not give the Brothers the benefit of the doubt because you don't have the facts, but to bring in assumptions out of thin air (unless I have missed something) is wholly unacceptable. Secondly, if you have a "Kill the sand n******" sticker, your big problem isn't tours, as children should not be allowed access to locker rooms, but instead your problem is with your Brother firefighters who would be sharing that locker room with you.

                    If you want to give a constitutionally based argument on why the FDNY admin. has a right to do this, thats fine; but to hang the Brothers out to dry with baseless statements and assumptions is ridiculous.

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      The inside of the locker is considered private space, but the decorations are all on the outside of the locker from what I read in the news stories.
                      "They who can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety, deserve neither liberty nor safety." -- Benjamin Franklin

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                      • #12
                        This really is ridiculous.

                        A locker has been proven, in court, to be the employee’s personal space. Similar rulings have been handed down, with regard to school lockers located on school property.
                        An employer has no more right to search your locker, than do the police without a warrant.
                        Administration here should really find something more important to worry about.

                        This is an instance in which the company officer needs to step up, and handle his company’s business. If the boss allows firemen to hang whatever pictures, or slogans up they want, make sure the locker is closed when no one is around. I’m quite sure there are written rules in place with what is allowed to be seen on a locker, or what is not, I know we do.
                        Something like this should never have been allowed to leave the firehouse. Someone has a big yap. What an incredible waste of time and money.
                        In the end though, we don't know the entire story, or the total reason of why this made it into the media.

                        I also support the UFA’s handling of this, and I hope their point is taken. This is nothing more than a typical knee-jerk reaction by an administration to punish all, when not all 'broke' a particular rule.
                        Last edited by jasper45; 01-11-2007, 12:33 PM.

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Originally posted by jasper45 View Post
                          This really is ridiculous.

                          A locker has been proven, in court, to be the employee’s personal space. Similar rulings have been handed down, with regard to school lockers located on school property.
                          An employer has no more right to search your locker, than do the police without a warrant.
                          Administration here should really find something more important to worry about.
                          But this does not apply to decorations on the outside of the locker. If you are driving and get pulled over, and there is an open bottle of vodka next to you in the center console, you can get a ticket. The cop does not need a search warrant because the container was in open view. To search your trunk he needs reasonable cause. If anybody can see the decorations while walking by (because they are on the outside door of the locker), then search warrants are not an issue.
                          "They who can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety, deserve neither liberty nor safety." -- Benjamin Franklin

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                          • #14
                            And just to clarify:

                            I do believe that this "crackdown" is a huge waste of time, money, and resources that could be used to benefit the FDNY. The whole idea is stupid, but within the right of the department.
                            "They who can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety, deserve neither liberty nor safety." -- Benjamin Franklin

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              This also brings up a current investigation here regarding bumper stickers on personal vehicles. If you bring your vehicle to work and are parked on City property do you have the right to have profane, racist, derogatory etc, stickers displayed on your POV. Any thoughts here?

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