Union Argues New FDNY Directive Is ‘Ridiculous’ & Violation Of Free Speech

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — The New York City firefighter’s union is engaged in a war over words with the FDNY.

The issue is a department directive, put out last month, which banned firefighters from displaying any material presenting opinions or viewpoints in their engine of ladder company quarters.

The union ordered its members to ignore the order, saying it was a violation of the First Amendment.

The FDNY eventually reworked the directive so it only banned the posting of opinions on firehouse walls, but Uniformed Firefighters Association President Steve Cassidy says that’s not nearly good enough.

“There are new bans that are in effect that you can’t put an American flag up, you can’t have a picture of a deceased firefighter who died in the line of duty, you can’t put up a sign that says ‘Go Giants,’ this is ridiculous,” Cassidy told 1010 WINS on Thursday.

The revised directive, under the headline “Use of Bulletin Boards in Quarters,” says the following:

“Bulletin boards in facilities shall be used only for official Department business or important information relating to approved Departmental organizations. In addition to applicable EEO restrictions, material presenting opinions or viewpoints is not permitted anywhere in quarters. It does not matter whether such opinions or views concern Department matters or non-Department matters. NO articles/material may be posted from any publications, internet or other sources.”

Sources told CBS 2’s Lou Young that the flap is really related to an organization inside the department called “Merit Matters,” which objects to some of the techniques being used to racially diversify the department.

The group’s president, Paul Mannix, told Young he is sure his group is the real target of the directive.

“We’re supposed to be grown-ups. We’re supposed to deal with opposing opinions. There is a big push about bringing diversity, but I guess diversity of thought isn’t included,” Mannix told Young.

Cassidy told 1010 WINS that in his opinion, it’s pretty clear that the policy violates the right of free speech. He says the ban – even with the new wording — is unacceptable and they plan to sue.

“We told them they violated our rights, they made a change. That change probably even more egregiously, violates our First Amendment rights. So the question is, how can you negotiate with someone who doesn’t understand the First Amendment or who believes instinctively that they can tell firefighters what to do on any level at any point in time,” Cassidy said.

The union’s newly hired Constitutional attorney also says the new directive won’t fly.

“Did somebody miss that day at law school? Were they sick? You just can’t do that. So stop,” said Attorney Ron Kuby.

When 1010 WINS reached out to the FDNY for comment, the department would only pass along the new directive.

What do you make of the FDNY directive?  Share your thoughts in the comments section…

  • flashover

    Whats the BHF cant pass the test?

  • Joe Nallan

    As i read about this effort by this federal judge to set a quota for the nyc fire dept it reminds me of my 28 years as a member.I came on the job in 1968 after waiting four years.Their was a long list from a previous list.None of my family was a cop or firefighter.In the early 70’s they installed a 3 to 1 system,for every 3 firefighters they hired one minority.(reverse discrimation) In the 80’s they caught the Vulcan(Black) society with answers to the upcoming FF exam.I could go on and on.My question is for the Vulture Society If they didn’t get the job with the above.Then they must have passed like everyone else,On their Merit.They want to make money by suing

  • w ceurvels

    Hey M Malecki, Holy firfighter is just showing us he is totally ignorant.

  • Borg Jansen

    What Judge Garaufis is really saying is that there are too many Irish firefighters, too many Italian firefighters, too many Swedish firefighters, too many German, Polish etc…If somebody suggested that there are too many Jewish doctors or lawyers they’d rightly be called anti-Semetic.
    Why is Garaufis not called anti -European/American????

  • Carl Babcock

    Merit Matters is an organization that believes merit should be the sole criteria
    used to hire and promote firefighters (as well as all other civil servants). Merit Matters welcomes people of all races, religions and genders and in fact has several minorities and females among it’s membership.
    Merit Matters is attempting to thwart the efforts of an out-of-control, biased judge (Garaufis) from imposing RACIAL QUOTAS on the FDNY.
    God Bless Merit Matters and it’s founder Deputy Chief Paul Mannix.

  • Rob T.

    It would probably be wise to consult some relevant case law on this topic and realize that a firehouse isn’t just a work place but also a home. Look it up.

    Second the reason they are attempting to squash this speech is the PC EEO lawyers don’t like to see viewpoints that contradict their racist policies.

    The group they seek to silence wants equal opportunity for all and no quota’s or special treatment for anyone based on race/gender …etc. Hard to argue with that. Judge for yourself http://www.meritmattersusa.blogspot.com

  • Don Giovanni

    I am all for free speech. But a firehouse is a government (public) owned building. The employer (FD) has a right to regulate what is posted on its walls, etc. Now there should be space for employee (union member) bulletin boards, but they should not be abused either.

    • matt

      I believe the anywhere in quarters is the problem.
      “In addition to applicable EEO restrictions, material presenting opinions or viewpoints is not permitted anywhere in quarters.”

  • lee

    The FBI and DEA fabricate evidence, steal from suspects and use murder to close those bad cases.
    There is evidence that employees from DoD, CIA and DOJ accepted bribes from Al Quida.
    How is it that 12 of the 9/11 terrorists could live for 2 weeks just 2 miles from NSA head quarters in Maryland.This after several of them had taken flight simulator lessons on Jumbo jet trainers and several of them where on State department terror watch lists.
    There is evidence that employees from DoD, CIA and DOJ accepted bribes from Al Quida.
    If DoJ and DoD employees where more concerned with doing their jobs than enriching themselves by stealing from suspects and taking bribes, then there might have been more a chance that 9/11 had never happened.
    Worse might be the fact that elements within the U.S. Intellignece agencies with intent create their own terrorists by carefully choosing suspects and through many 10’s of years of psycological and physical abuse create their own terrorists. Why, to prop up defense spending.
    My dog was poisoned to death, a stolen car was run into the front of my house, gang members are harrassing me, I get death threats, BB guns are being shot at my car when I drive, my car is being tampered with, money and jewelry has been stolen out of my house, very long term sleep deprivation, etc….
    They have been harrassing me for 20 years.

  • Bow to the holy firfighters

    God forbid the high and mighty firefighters obey any rules set b4 them.
    Dosent the city know no to mess with these heros(zeros)
    The fdny is the biggest waste of $$$$ for taxpayers

    • m173627

      Stop hiding behind anonymous comments and go to your local engine company and tell it to their faces.
      And whats your job, hm? Collecting welfare checks while you sit on a stolen computer all day bashing hard working people?

    • Kerri Paoletti

      If your house is ever on fire, please call a crackhead. I wouldn’t want them to waste their time on someone like you. I mean, you cannot appreciate what they do because you will never have half the balls to do what they do.
      Garbage like you is what is so wrong with America.

      • Kerri

        That reply was directed at “Bow to the holy firefighters”.

    • jerseyjoey

      I thank God we have such brave heros like our fire fighters out there at any cost.

    • TS

      Your girlfriend dumped you for a “smoke-eater”, huh? Don’t take it so hard…

    • M Malecki

      To Bow to Holy Firfighter. What is a Firfighter.

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