Court Denies Watertown's Appeal On Firefighter Arbitration

Court Denies Watertown's Appeal On Firefighter Arbitration

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Watertown firefighters will be allowed to take the issue of minimum staffing to arbitration.

City officials learned Thursday that Watertown lost its request to appeal a February decision - one that ruled in favor of the firefighters' union. 

Back in February, city council went behind closed doors to decide whether or not to try to appeal the ruling.

In a 3 to 2 vote, council went for it.

But the court of appeals denied the city's request. 

"The Union has been steadfast in its stance that the City knowingly and deliberately violated its contractual obligation to provide for the safety of Local 191 as well as denying the citizens of Watertown a consistent level of service.  Going forward we look forward to putting a successful end to this issue, and that the City return to being in compliance with the terms of the mutually agreed upon contract," said Dan Daugherty, president of the firefighters union, in a prepared statement.

"The city is disappointed. We still take the position that minimum manning is an issue that has fiscal strains on the city and we will have to look at it from that perspective. My hope would be that we can sit down with the union and try to find a middle ground," said Rick Finn, city manager.

Watertown's firefighters have been without a contract since July 2014. 

The current contract calls for 15 firefighters to be on duty, but the city says taxpayers can't afford that many. 

Arbitration could begin later this year.

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