Watertown’s fire chief discusses contract as lawmakers prepare vote

WWNY Watertown’s fire chief discusses contract as lawmakers prepare vote

WATERTOWN, N.Y. (WWNY) - Watertown City Council is expected to vote on a contract deal with the city's firefighters union Monday night. We spoke with the fire chief, who says he's hopeful the years-long contract dispute will start to see a conclusion.

It was work as usual Monday for Watertown city firefighters - work they've been doing without a contract.

Monday's city council meeting could be a big step forward in solving the problem.

A potential agreement, years in the making, awaits lawmakers' vote.

"Certainly it's been quite a struggle. I get the impression that neither side is real enthusiastic about it and maybe that's an indication that it's a reasonable compromise between the two," said Chief Matt Timerman.

Timmerman says the deal covers the last four years - 2016 to June of 2020.

If approved by council, firefighters will get a 2.5 percent wage increase for each of those years and they will have to pay more for health insurance.

"People aren't super enthused about paying more in that regard, but it's nice they get the pay raises," said Timerman.

But what if council votes it down?

"It'd be disappointing but we've got to come to a conclusion," said Timerman.

Timerman doesn't have a good prediction as to which way each council member will vote, but he is hopeful to see progress.

"Being able to reach even small agreements is important and if we can agree on some small things maybe we can put those together and start working on the bigger issues," he said.

Issues like the controversial staffing question - how many firefighters should be working per shift. This agreement doesn't solve that, but both sides would have to start discussing it within 60 days once the deal is set.

If council approves this deal, firefighters will still be working under an expired contract so officials say negotiations for right now and into the future are up next.

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