On Tuesday, we told you about an ongoing dispute between the Village of Endicott and the firefighters union. The controversy is over how much sick time a local firefighter should be allotted. Our Melissa Kakareka sat down with the firefighter at the center of the controversy and tells us more about the situation.
ENDICOTT, N.Y. -- Endicott Fireman Dana Stockton is suffering from a rare form of cancer.
"I was diagnosed with cancer in early January, so for the last five months, I've been going back and forth to Rochester for chemotherapy," said Stockton.
Stockton ran out of sick time three weeks ago and asked to borrow about 700 hours from the fire department's sick bank, which is a way for firefighters to donate extra accrued time to co-workers in need. The board denied the request.
"I was disappointed. It's almost as if they plan on my not coming back to work and I plan on coming back as soon as I can," said Stockton.
The Mayor of Endicott says that it would be too difficult for Stockton to pay back the sick bank as stated in his contract. He says the village offered to match each hour of sick time donated by other firefighters, but the firefighters union turned down the offer. Union officials say the situation is outrageous and unprecedented.
"This sick bank exists for a reason and what better reason that guy who has a bizarre and deadly form of cancer, why?" asked Endicott Firefighters Union President Paul Higgins.
Now several firefighters are showing their support for Stockton by donating their own sick time. Support that the Stockton family appreciates as Dana works toward recovering and getting back to work.
"We've just had so much support, truly this has been the first stumbling block other than what he's had to overcome, but we're staying positive and we'll get past it," said Stockton's wife, Teresa Stockton.
"The firefighters are a big brotherhood and they are going to do what they can to help."
The President of the firefighters union says there is no provision for an appeal in the contract. But he hopes to further discuss the matter with the Endicott Board of Trustees.