Decision To Break Firefighters Union's Contract Was 3 - 1

Decision To Break Firefighters Union's Contract Was 3 - 1

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It was a split decision in Monday night's executive session to violate the contract with the fire department.

As reported on former mayor Jeff Graham's radio show and blog, Mayor Joe Butler and council members Teresa Macaluso and Steve Jennings voted for it.

Council member Cody Horbacz was against it and council member Mark Walczyk not taking a side.

Horbacz was on WTNY this morning talking about the state of the city.

"Morale is down everywhere. I think people are really excited about the change that's coming though," he said.

Monday's action was on the decision to reduce the fire department's minimum manning to 13 when firefighters call in sick.

The city's lawyer in this matter, Terry O'Neil, says violating the contract is a more direct way to take this to court, where he says the city will win.

"The history of the court of appeals has been to sustain minimum manning provisions only under very strict guidelines, and it's my opinion the provisions in the Watertown fire contract do not meet those provisions," said O'Neil.

Mayor Butler and City Manager Sharon Addison say this is the only way they have left to reduce overtime spending.

Union President Dan Daugherty disagrees.

"This is not going to solve the OT problem," he said.

Daugherty says what will solve the OT issue is hiring more firefighters; the department hasn't hired anyone new in 6 years.

The union has filed grievances against the city to take this to court.

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