Friday, April 22, 2016

Watertown Firefighters' Contract Needs To Change, Mayor Says | WWNY TV 7

       The budget will come in under the tax cap and firefighters have relent on their contract. That's the message Mayor Joe Butler had this morning on TV 7.
        First, it admirable the Mayor is articulating the position for a new collective bargaining agreement and not let the union get in all the shots in public. Long term there is a structural budget problem that limits the ability to fund the range of services and programs the public expects.
         As Councilman, Mr. Butler long favored breaking open the union contract but he had fire department support in his run as he pledged no layoffs would happen. Currently labor talks are headed to arbitration.
        As for the budget, Mr. Butler plans to primarily use the fund balance to lower the levy. That's fine as the fund balance is flush. What the public is never told in news coverage is that a fund balance appropriation is often replenished by the next year as expenditures come in below what was budgeted.
       The smart move is to keep it under the cap, as I don't think there are the votes for an override.
       Watertown Firefighters' Contract Needs To Change, Mayor Says | WWNY TV 7 - News, Weather and Sports for | Local News

27 comments:

Anonymous said...

Et Tu Butler... There he goes again.... Mayor Butler talking out of both sides of his mouth. He is showing his true colors now. Butler says he is for them, but cutting them... The only thing that is really evident about him is that he has no political savvy. Thus will be another one term Butler.

Anonymous said...

Mayor Butler is a phony! He tells you what you want to hear to your face and then stabs you in the back!

Anonymous said...

Did you mean to say the appropriation is "not spent" versus "replenished"

Anonymous said...

"I don't want to eliminate any positions" as per mayor Butler, but through attrition is still eliminating positions isn't it? The blank check is being signed by city hall with not filling the positions and costing the overtime. The minimum manning is set by the council/fire/managers/standards/study's, and they still want to eliminate and go against this theory and put the blame on the firefighters. I don't understand this. As a tax payer, I don't like that my taxes have to go up but have to bite off the bullet and pay them because expenses are rising just like in my house. I don't want to pay increased car insurance or house insurance or grocery increases, but i have no choice in this because it is NEEDED and part of reality. If I don't pay the increase in my insurances, they cancel me, and when i need it most, I will really be hurting. STOP PUTTING THE BLAME ON ONE GROUP WHEN ITS A LARGER ISSUE THAT NOW YOU HAVE TO FACE. The arena is your choice for the new building, but now its our problem to pay the increase in taxes because of it. We didn't have a say in that, but just the fabulous five decided on the arena and now we the taxpayers have to pay the big bill and taxes on this. There is a lot of blame there, but you just don t want to say, that we probably shouldn't have done the arena because its too costly. After a few years when we still cant afford the arena, what are we going to do? Start removing a brick at a time, so we can sell it to make some more money. That's not safe either and sooner or later, it will crumble and you will still be responsible and have to sleep at night.
I am not an attorney but should the mayor really be in public saying what he thinks should be done with the negotiations when they are still talking with the fire group? Is this professional on his part. Mr. Dority was speaking on the radio about what the city has done to them and what they want to do? Mr. Butler is actually saying what their intentions are and firing back at the fire fighters instead of just saying that we are working with them and will hopefully resolve the issues. Hopefully, this is not a mistake on Mr. Butlers part, and we the taxpayers now have to pay more or lose something because he opened his mouth again.. When will this council learn. jeff, you are missed. You were professional and would not have been caught dead being so harsh and trying to impress people, the select few, who may agree with you but still know you wouldn't come out and say such strong words.

Anonymous said...

This is only the beginning. The loss of the sweetheart deal with National Grid is not that far off. What planning is being done about this?

Anonymous said...

Looks like the fire house is well represented here.
Go Joe!
This is why he was elected, because he is fiscally responsible and know how to get things under control!

Anonymous said...

Congrats to Butler for finally doing something right. It takes guts for him to stand up to the fire union overtime machine. But he needs to keep in mind that he got elected over one issue and this is it.

Anonymous said...

Butler is a two faced liar, plain and simple. Always has been a snake always will be.

Anonymous said...

Rapid improvements in fire safety have caused a dramatic drop in the number of blazes, according to the National Fire Protection Association. Buildings are constructed with fire-resistant materials; clothing and curtains are made of flame-retardant fabrics; and municipal laws mandate sprinkler systems and smoke detectors. The striking results: On highways, vehicle fires declined 64 percent from 1980 to 2013. Building fires fell 54 percent during that time. When they break out, sprinkler systems almost always extinguish the flames before firefighters can turn on a hose.

But oddly, as the number of fires has dropped, the ranks of firefighters have continued to grow significantly. There are half as many fires as there were 30 years ago, but about 50 percent more people are paid to fight them.

Despite the decrease in the number of fires, powerful public unions representing firefighters have kept salaries high and hiring on the increase. In an extreme example, Los Angeles saw the average firefighter making more than $142,000 in 2013 (factoring in overtime and bonuses). Furthermore, “Exorbitant overtime costs are fueled by union-negotiated minimum-staffing levels that often mandate four firefighters per engine be on duty at all times, regardless of the cost or workload.”
I just read this article and I truely believe the mayor and council are heading in a direction which only benefits the taxpayers of Watertown.. All these proffessionals are posting their complaints and positions while on duty and this should be investigated.

While large cities will always need to retain a staff of professional firefighters, there are many municipalities that depend nearly entirely on volunteers. Using the example of Pasadena, Texas, McChesney argues that, for cities of a certain size, the volunteer model is not only tenable but preferable—and if all cities of this size were to follow suit, “municipalities would save more than $8.8 billion a year in base pay.”
The move to reduce the budgets of fire departments may be politically unpopular—everyone loves a firefighter, and rightly so. Americans will always be grateful to those willing to risk their lives for the public good. We should also be grateful, however, that they are forced to do so far less often today than in previous decades. Since that is true, it’s worth considering the case for re-evaluating current hiring practices. e.

Anonymous said...

Sorry,the man ran on the premise he was "a friend of the fire department".Now he wants to slash that same fire department and still retain his status as a "friend".You can piss down my leg and tell me it is raining,but that is not rainwater puddling in my shoe,that is piss..

Anonymous said...

Go Joe???? Its not over yet, and when its all over we will see who is smiling, Joe and his non supported ideas, or the firemen who are supported by the judge, standards, policy etc from the final arbitration when it is finished.... and then it will still be the fire departments fault right????
Lets wait this out and see who is right.

Anonymous said...

I am continually amazed at the greed and stupidity of the firequeens.

Anonymous said...

8:16, why do you say the move to reduce fire department staffing may be unpopular? Butler won because he is the one who voted to spend the money on the heavy hitter union busting lawyer. He took a sensible approach to this from the beginning.

Just because the union and the media trot out pro-blank-check union relatives and a few octogenarian voters, who agree money is no object, doesn't mean the public at large is buying the fire department's BS. The public wants these sensible cuts.

Anonymous said...

as a family member, i'll beat your greed "thoughts" with their cancer treatments when they are sitting in a hospital because of a job they loved and sacrificed for strangers. Just like our soldiers, they choose to do the job, and get alot of government money and perks, but i still hate to see them suffer and respect what they do for our freedom and safety.
You should be ashamed.....12:31

Danny M. Francis (Eyepublius) said...

Mayor Butler is way out of line in thought and what he proposes.

BTW: I bet the current city manager negotiated for the best contract she could. Do away with collective bargaining? Give me a break that law dates back to 1935 and Unions have despite the turmoil at times, have serve the country and working Americans top notch. Turn back the clock on Unions and those why represent - ha... good luck with that.

Here are some Union bargaining accomplishments:

1. Weekends without work breaks at work including lunch
2. Paid vacation
3. Family & Medical Leave Act
4. Sick leave
5. Social Security
6. Minimum wage
7. Title 7: employer discrimination
8. 8-hour work day
9. Overtime pay
10. Child labor laws
11. Safety & Health Act (OSHA)
12. 40-hour work week
13. Workers compensation
14. Unemployment insurance
15. Pensions
16. Workplace safety standards
17. Employer health care insurance
18. Collective bargaining
19. Wrongful termination laws
20. Anti-Age Discrimination 1967
21. Whistleblower protection laws
22. Employee Polygraph Protection
23. Veteran's Employment and Training
24. Compensation & Raise Evaluation
25. Sexual harassment laws
26. Americans with Disabilities Act
27. Holiday pay
28. Employer provided-insurance
29. Privacy rights
30. Pregnancy and parental leave
31. Military leave (job protection)
32. The right to strike
33. Public education for children
34. Equal Pay Act: 1963 & 2011
35. Ending sweatshops/Child labor

Anonymous said...

Have to stop thinking in terms that every fire fighter is a hero. Many are. Many are not. They just do the job, collect a pay check. As far as friends, there are no friends in business. Fire Dept is a work place that only survives as long as the money is flowing. There must be some top dogs who are ready to retire. Must be two or more. We all know one man who said he was 9n his way out during the election. There is some money ready to be freed up.

Anonymous said...

Here, let me help you continue your list Danny:

36. Passed a NYS constitutional amendment to make their pensions NYS tax free like Danny's is. Well actually it took a lawsuit to make Danny's tax free too...but still thank the union because it was the unions coat tails they road into court on.
37. Allocate overtime to those soon to retire, thus padding their pension, taking advantage of pension laws voted in by union politicians.
38. Mandate 15 union fire fighters have to be on duty at all times, even though ten would be more than is needed. Thus sticking it to tax payers and contributing to the reason that NYS has mass migration out of the state by businesss and residents alike.

Anonymous said...

Hey 315 that's the one thing I never understood why my COW pension is exempt from State Taxes.....But remember PattyPlate, and Addie have the same pension.

Anonymous said...

Danny, how could you even think to compare the city manager's negotiations with a the fire department negotiations, and keep a straight face?
I would love them to be on par swith one antoher but they are apples and extortion.
In her case, the city WANTED her and agreed to pay her enough to entice her to take the job. They selected her above all other candidates and could have walked if they didn't like her price.

In the case of the fire fighters, the city doesn't want them. They want less of them instead. And if the city wanted to hire someone else, they couldn't. The city doesn't get to negotiate with the fire department because they are mandated by law to reach an agreement with specific terms in a specific way, and the most important negotiating option, the option of not reaching an agreement, is not available to the city. However the employee can walk anytime they want if they really believe they are underpaid or unsafe. But you won't hold your breath for any of them to quit, will you?

Anonymous said...

3:15 Get real.
The padded contribution is "given" by the city in the same contract everyone is so hard on. It is online and anybody can read it to you. In their 20th year, the city gives a bonus if they retire, 21, 22 but this is less each year for about 3 years. This is good enough because the city has negotiated it and kept it in there each year because it benefits them, the city, so now the contract is not all that bad is it.
Being able to do the job with 10, give me another break. You are probably more than welcome to show your face to any fire station and ask about their job and how many it really takes. Everyone here is always hitting on the numbers but do they REALLY know what each job is for and if it actually is required, and why? Probably not. If you do, your a volunteer and compare it the way you do business. I'm sorry to say, that many places in volunteer areas burn severely and are removed from the tax role, but many are not. Depending on their village or town fire department, time does a toll on how much damage and how much fire is meeting them when they arrive. Look at the last few fires, other than the one on Vanduzee St, which is known to be set, most if not all of the buildings are still on the street and fixed to be on the tax role. Thank you guys for saving us money and NOT taking it always... some of us really do appreciate the job you do.

Anonymous said...

Unions are on the way out , HGS RN Nurses union has been without a contract for a year with no settlement in site . IAM lodge 768 at Airbrake shut down cold in 2013 with a take it or leave it contract or be replaced with scab workers . Carrier in syracuse shut down cold moved to mexico , they could not suck any more free money from the state . The only place that got a reprieve was Alcoa , Boat loads of ransom money paid from the stupid State to stay in the area 3 years . Unions are dying right under your nose and you don't even know it.

Danny M. Francis (Eyepublius) said...

7:52 - the topic was how to negotiate ... that is what the City Manager did - got the best contract she wanted and could... why can't anyone do the same?

Stay awake in class ... that or sober up.

Anonymous said...

No Danny, the topic is extortion by the public unions, using one sided union laws. You unsuccessfully tried to compare it to a true negotiation like the one that took place between the city and the city manager.

Anonymous said...

Time to compare teachers unions with WFD. Does Joe go complain that teachers have a raise every year called steps in addition to any negotiated contracts? How much does one's school taxes increase yearly? If it feathers his nest it matters not. Enjoy spring break Joe.

Anonymous said...

8:58, if the teachers union jumped off a bridge, would YOU jump off a bridge? If so, I have it on good authority the teachers union did jump off a bridge, so get jumping.

Seriously? "We fire fighters are just sticking it to the tax payers like the teachers do". Is that the best you got?

Anonymous said...

1:08 teacher?

Anonymous said...

I am just curious, how many of those "inflated" budgets did Mr. Butler accept while on Council? Truth is, he has had many opportunities to help define the size of the department and budgets over the years but obviously felt that the appropriations were reasonable or I assume, he would not have accepted them.

Why this issue is just coming up now is beyond me. Did something happen to change things that I am not aware of? The mere fact that we have to now pay for a very expensive NYC lawyer and likely heading to a very expensive arbitration process infuriates me as a taxpayer. Before Sharon how many times has the city been in arbitration? Is her inability to negotiate costing us more money? Both sides should return to the table willing to reach a compromise rather than subjecting the taxpayers to all of this unnecessary cost. Takes both sides to get to this point.

I knew Mary Corriveau both professionally and personally and have a hard time believing that we would be in this situation if she were still at the helm. The problem with Mary is that she was logical and professional. Guess she was not willing to move the city in the direction we are in now. Sure wish she were back. There is real damage getting done here. Not only now, but regarding future negotiations as well. No matter who wins, what does this mean for the future? I am very scared........