MAYS LANDING — Superior Court Judge Mark Sandson ruled Tuesday that cuts to salary and benefits of Atlantic City Fire Department members must wait 20 days while appeals are heard.
An attorney for the city’s firefighters union, IAFF Local 198, argued the budget cuts and proposed changes to the firefighters’ schedules would cause “irreparable harm” while the union is filing an appeal of a March 17 ruling.
Sandson, who presided over Tuesday’s hearing while Superior Court Judge Julio Mendez was on a scheduled vacation, said his decision for the stay was based on the final decision in the ongoing case being made in an appeals court.
On Friday, Mendez ruled the state can proceed with plans to slash pay and benefits for city firefighters.
Mendez’s ruling allows the state to cut salaries, eliminate benefits, increase work hours and switch firefighters to a new health care plan, among other unilateral contract changes that were supposed to take effect Monday.
“Obviously, we’re happy,” said union President Bill DiLorenzo. “We believe if we can get into a room with reasonable minds, we could come to a decision.”
State attorney Ronald Israel did not comment on Tuesday’s decision.
DiLorenzo said after the hearing that the hope is for mediation between the state and Fire Department to decide how cuts can be made.
“This means we are 20 more days closer to a solution,” DiLorenzo said.