Unions push back against firefighter's suspension

A firefighter and union president who was reprimanded earlier this week by the City of Corner Brook is receiving support from two firefighters unions.
Two unions, including the Corner Brook firefighters association, are backing suspended member Geoff Sparkes. (CBC)

A firefighter and union president who was reprimanded earlier this week by the City of Corner Brook has received support from two firefighters unions.

In a news release Thursday, the International Association of Firefighters (IAFF) and the Corner Brook Firefighters Association vowed to fight the one-week unpaid suspension of Geoff Sparkes.

Sparkes, president of the Corner Brook Firefighter's Association, was disciplined after an advertisement ran in The Western Star urging residents to ask municipal election candidates about public and firefighter safety.

The city also sent letters of warning to three other local union leaders. 

IAFF spokesman David Burry said his union is considering legal action against the city.

The union claims that the ad, which appeared in early September, clearly stated that the message was from the union that represents full-time Corner Brook firefighters, not Sparkes himself. 

“The Corner Brook Firefighters Association has a right, and an obligation to participate in the discussion about public and firefighter safety. We're fighting back against this injustice, and we have no doubt we will be successful in the end,” Burry said.

 “The city has no business telling the union what it can and cannot speak about when it comes to representing its members' interests. That should be very clear.”

The two unions have said they will not say anything else about the matter for the time being.

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