Firefighters Union: More OT Cuts Are A Gamble

Firefighters Union: More OT Cuts Are A Gamble

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At Monday night's Watertown City Council meeting, Mayor Joe Butler asked council to expand the city's directive on minimum manning.

Right now, if a firefighter calls in sick, the department can't call in another firefighter on overtime unless there are fewer than 13 people working.

"Continue that policy, but not limit it to sick time, but use it for Kelly Days and scheduled vacation days as well," he said.

City Manager Sharon Addison says the city saved close to $21,000 in overtime between the time when the fire department stopped back-filling for sick time and the end of January. Mayor Butler says expanding the directive could be a real cost savings.

"Thirteen is working and we're saving some money but if you expanded on that, you'd be looking at saving serious money," said Butler.

Butler wants to expand the no overtime rule to include all other ways firefighters could take time off after the city won a round in court.

"The simple fact of the matter is this is far from over. The fact is we're appealing to the appellate court on Judge McClusky's decision from a few weeks ago," said Dan Daugherty, president of the firefighters union.

But Daugherty says if the firefighters union wins, the city could have to pay the fire union, plus penalties.

"We could be looking at hundreds of thousands of dollars paid out per court order if it comes down to it.. So if cost savings are really what 's important to him, he's doing the wrong thing," said Daugherty.

Butler's idea come from a consultant, the same consultant the city hired to do a study on the fire department a couple of years ago.

He wants to do another study with the group now that the court has ruled in the city's favor.

Council decided to table the discussion until next meeting when all 5 council members will be there.

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