Press Releases

For Release April 7, 2015

New York City’s Firefighters Question Forbes Ranking of FDNY As One of America’s Top Employers

Forbes has just published its ranking of the top employers in America, with a top 20 that includes brands such as Google, Costco Wholesale, LL Bean, BMW and at #17 the Fire Department of the City of New York (http://www.forbes.com/companies/fire-department-city-of-new-york/).

Shortly after the ranking was made public the union that represents New York’s Bravest say magazine editors clearly made a mistake. 2015 marks the FDNY’s 150th anniversary protecting the people of the City of New York.

Steve Cassidy, president of the Uniformed Firefighters Association said, “Almost every New York City Firefighter will tell you that they love their job, the FDNY and are willing to risk their lives to protect citizens, but 1,400 of the Big Apple’s newest firefighters now continuously must ask, should I risk my life and health for only $27 a day.” The UFA represents more than 8,100 New York City Firefighters.

The union says that if the magazine editors dug deeper they would have recognized that, after recently losing a major federal discrimination lawsuit, the FDNY went on a multi-million dollar recruiting blitz aimed at attracting more minority recruits. While that campaign was successful, promising firefighter candidates “the best job in the world has the best benefits in the world,” it has left over 1,400, many Black, Latino, Asian and female, dangerously lacking real disability protections should any be permanently injured in the line of duty.

Mr. Cassidy added, “If new recruits sworn in since 2013 are seriously burned, injured, even paralyzed in the line of duty, the city believes they can survive on just $27/day for the remainder of their lives. To ask the best trained firefighters to risk their life and health for only $10,000 per year disability protection is an insult and shows lack of respect for the workforce.” The UFA says state legislation is needed to correct this problem.

Since a federal judge’s ruling, the FDNY has graduated over 1,400 new firefighters with more than 46% of those being Black, Latino, Asian and female firefighters.

FF Antoinette Proctor (Engine 235), who spent nine years in the U.S. Marine Corps before the FDNY said, “I didn’t know that new firefighters were in a different pension tier until after I graduated from the academy. I assumed that I didn’t have to worry about my benefits because city, state and federal employees are typically well protected with great benefits. In the academy they told us we were in a different tier but I didn’t know the details. Firefighters told me of the shortfalls after I graduated. I saw numerous flyers and heard some radio commercials encouraging firefighter recruitment, talking about the great benefits of the job.”

FF Hassan Clark (Engine 90) said, “I want to be able to do his job without second guessing. I never had to second guess if my family and I would be protected while serving in the United States Military in the event of an accident. I would be more comfortable if the system protected me the way I risk my life to protect other families across New York.”

FF Webster Lewis (Engine 54) said, “I and other firefighters put our lives on the line and this issue makes the job less appealing for everyone. We are protecting other families, but who is going to protect ours? I hope that the issue is resolved. I hope that people, the citizens, and leaders of New York realize that FDNY firefighters deserve better protections for risking their lives and health.”

FF Mike Tubens (Engine 84) said, “I find it absolutely ridiculous. We are putting our lives on the line, but I do not have any regrets about becoming a firefighter. It is a dangerous job and it is sad and disappointing. We take care of the city’s people, but the city isn’t taking care of us.”

Veteran FF Bernardo Rodriguez (Engine 95) said, “Because I was employed before the change, I am well protected and so is my family. But for a new firefighter with no financial support, it is the equivalent of taking a fireman’s gear off and sending him into a fire. I partially became a firefighter because of the benefits. The city took away one of the main reasons people wanted the job. The city isn’t looking out for firefighters’ best interests and if they become injured, they’ll be on their own.”

FDNY Lieutenant Jorge Luis Torres, president of the FDNY’s Hispanic Society is speaking up out about his concerns, first for the FDNY’s newest Hispanic firefighters, but secondarily for his own son, who happens to be one of the 1,400-plus new FDNY Firefighters. He says, firefighters have begun to question, “Am I taking this chance next to this other firefighter? Am I going in further and am I going to risk my life to save someone else’s? This is the first time in my career I started seeing firefighters, to some extent, second guessing and start thinking about that. This is not right and needs to be changed…. As a father of a NYC Firefighter, I question, should he risk his life for $27 a day?”

Forbes in partnership with Statista.com, asked over 20,000 American workers at large U.S. companies, nonprofits, government agencies, on a scale of 0-10, how likely would you be to recommend your employer to someone else? How about other employers in your industry? From that the magazine developed its list of 500 employers, from 25 different industry sectors.

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