Defendants are the President and two other members of the Executive Board of the Uniformed Firefighters Association (UFA). They have been indicted for Reckless Endangerment in the Second Degree and related crimes arising from their role in calling the first strike of firemen in New York City history on November 6, 1973.
It appears therefrom that the UFA, for a time prior to the strike, had been engaged in negotiations with the City for a new collective bargaining agreement. During the pendency of these negotiations, its rank-and-file membership passed a resolution authorizing the Executive Board to conduct a mailed secret ballot of the membership to determine whether the Board should be enabled to call a total strike of the firefighters of the City of New York at a time and date to be determined by the Executive Board. The result was that New York City’s firefighters voted not to strike. Nevertheless, the defendants conspired to conceal the true outcome of the ballot from both the membership and the public and decided instead to falsely announce that the membership of the UFA had voted overwhelmingly in favor of a total strike. In conjunction with this initial deception, the criminal defendants planned and attempted to coerce the City to accept their contract terms by falsely representing the existence of the strike mandate to the City’s negotiators. Finally, on November 6, 1973, the defendants did in fact call and caused a virtual total strike of the firefighters of New York City–a strike that the firemen themselves, still ignorant of the true outcome of the ballot, had democratically voted against.
A fire then broke-out for five and a half hours throughout the city, desperate civilians and some police officers sounded alarms, lugged their own hoses, broke windows in smoke-filled buildings and prayed anxiously that the small force of non-striking firemen could get to the fires in time.