Watertown, Firefighters Union Back In Court In Long-Running Disp

Watertown, Firefighters Union Back In Court In Long-Running Dispute

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Watertown's lawyer in the long running dispute with the city's fire department says an outside arbitrator was wrong for ruling in favor of the fire union.

"It's one of the more irrational ones I've ever seen in my life. It's wrong in so many different ways," said Terry O'Neil, Watertown's lawyer.

Last summer, an arbitrator sided with the union, saying that the city owed $75,000 of back pay to firefighters who'd been temporarily promoted to captains while out on calls.

O'Neil says the union did not go through the arbitration process correctly, which hurt the city's case with the arbitrator.

But the union's lawyer, Nat Lambright, says this issue should have ended in arbitration.

"The city rehashed all of the arguments that it put forward in arbitration. They were dismissed by the arbitrator. The union was victorious. It's not the court's job to re-litigate grievance arbitration and clog the courts with arbitration cases," said Lambright.

This particular fight all started with the city's decision to demote eight fire captains in 2016. 

It's been a series of back-and-forths since. 

The issue of the captains is only one of several battles in a long running contract dispute.

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