The Uniformed Firefighters Association of New York has taken the unusual (if not unprecedented) step of ordering its membership to disregard a directive issued by the Fire Department that seeks to limit the posting of “opinions” in fire stations… Yes… no “opinions”… posted in fire stations…. anywhere in the city of New York…
The order in question, identified as DO 89, instructs members to comply with an already existing regulation (Section 19.2.2, 5th Paragraph). The language at the heart of the controversy reads as follows:
“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.”
Here is the Original DO 89: FDNYOrder89
Here is the union’s memo: UFA Memo
The Fire department subsequently released a new policy, but the controversy seems only to have grown. new-fdny-posting
The situation raises some significant First Amendment issues, as well as collective bargaining issues (concerted activities, unilateral changes to working conditions, etc.). Here’s a link to a video on the story, including some interesting comments by the union’s First Amendment lawyer.
What do you think. Will the no posting of opinion rule fly? Or how soon before the rule is overturned?