Judge Sets Deadline For New Orleans To Address Firefighter Pay Case

NEW ORLEANS (AP) — The city of New Orleans has two weeks to submit a plan for paying city firefighters the $75 million — plus $67 million in interest — that it owes them in a decades-old lawsuit.

         The New Orleans Advocate’s Jeff Adelson reports the order was issued Thursday by Civil District Court Judge Kern Reese.

         To avoid possible sanctions from the court, Mayor Mitch Landrieu's administration must have a plan ready and approved by the City Council by Aug. 21.

         The case before Reese dates back to 1979 when firefighters sued to get raises that they argued were required by state law based on their years of service.

         While firefighters are now being paid the proper amount, successive city administrations have never paid the roughly $142 million in back pay and interest firefighters are owed, even though the city has lost every round in court.

         The Landrieu administration has argued that it does not have the money to cover the firefighters' back pay outright without cuts to city services.

         Firefighters say they've been waiting decades for the money they're owed and point to more than 100 firefighters who have died while still owed money by the city as the case has moved through the courts.

         Firefighters want the city to turn over about $20 million of the $45 million it's getting as part of a settlement with BP. The administration has argued that money should go toward coastal restoration projects or efforts to make the city more resilient against natural disasters.

         Firefighters said the rest of the money to be paid out over the next five years through other sources, including a new property tax given preliminary approval by voters but never put into effect.

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