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Arbitrator gives wins to Watertown and city firefighters

Published: Oct. 12, 2021 at 3:58 PM EDT
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WATERTOWN, New York (WWNY) - An arbitrator hands out a win to both Watertown and city firefighters.

It centers around a union grievance after city lawmakers sidelined and sold the department’s heavy rescue truck.

Firefighters got a pay bump for some of the members of the rescue company when they take on the duties of a captain in the field.

The two firefighters from that team have been moved to the ladder truck.

The union claims when that vehicle arrives on scene, the members still act as a rescue company, with one taking the lead.

The arbitrator rules that person could be paid like a captain for the day, but the city manager says some details need to be hashed out.

“When they’re actually responding to a fire or other emergency, we have to determine what those other emergencies are, and exactly when they get to a scene, exactly what type of work puts them into doing captain’s work,” said Watertown City Manager Ken Mix.

There’s a December 15 deadline to sort that out.

The union also charges the city with violating the collective bargaining agreement by eliminating the rescue company.

But, the arbitrator disagrees, saying the team was never clearly done away with and members still carry out those duties.

The firefighters union had no comment.

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