Wednesday, April 20, 2016

WDT: Curtain Pulled Back on Management Frustration Over Fire Department

      Mayor Joe Butler used Tuesday's Council meeting to unload on the Firefighters union and reveal the frustrations that have led a majority of Council to support staff efforts to strip the union of staffing language in their CBA.
      The Mayor says the union has waged a PR effort during negotiations and Mr. Butler had had enough.
       It's refreshing this cloak of secrecy that always shrouds contract talk was pulled away.  For years the case against the firefighters has been made in private by managers and the city attorney and the initiative to hire a lawyer to prosecute that strategy intensified the past two years.
       The City's position needs to be explained and that's what the Mayor began doing at this meeting.
       Council also set the stage for busting through the tax cap by introducing a local law to be debated next month.  The Mayor and Councilman Horbacz also publicly backed single stream recycling.
  http://www.watertowndailytimes.com/news03/mayor-butler-criticizes-watertown-firefighters-union-20160420 

45 comments:

Anonymous said...

How amazing that the fruit salad in city hall has now included Butler on the same wagon. I thought Jennings and Macaluso were the only nuts there but after reading about Mr. Butler going after the fire men, i see he has forgotten who supported him to his throne as well. The price he offered was too high as firefighters only make 55,000. What do the cops make, or what does the new city manager make in her first years? More than what Mary made after being her for how many years? How about the Police chief and captain, and some other department heads? How about the City Engineer? All these positions are paid a decent wage too and what do they do? Work from an office with air-conditioning and heat, and not the outdoors or in sights where they can be shot at. Two more firefighters were just shot in MD, with one dead and one critically injured. What would our city do if that happened? Im sure the manager and mayor would be up there saying this is a tragic event, horrible thing to happen to someone who was out their trying to save lives. I hope this never happens, but if something serious does because of their unsupported cut or ax to take out members of the fire department, every wife, child and member should be in line for the negligence lawsuit against each of the council members, city of Watertown, and manager for putting their lives at more risk. It has happened and i cant believe our city is not figuring that out. Maybe if Mr. Butler has been at the negotiations, he might realize the mood and style of the manager and the "thug" they hired to negotiate from NYC. How much of a demand have they done, and what has the firefighters asked for? Safety??? Look at the "Black Sunday" lawsuit which was just settled. The City was held 80% responsible because they did not support and complete proper inspections of a building where six firefighters were killed or injured. The lawsuit was in the Millions and most charged against the city for their lack of leadership and overall safety for the firefighters. They didn't do their job, and so they were responsible for it. Look at the study which recommends things that are being taken away. Who is spending the money foolishly? Pay for studies to not listen to them? What are we doing with these people representing us. Maybe a no confidence vote should be looked at for these members and management. Now who is spending and sucking the taxpayers dry? Don't blame the overtime on the union when its management who is not filling the spots, or taking the free paid members to cut overtime, which ultimately adds up the OT.
Listen to what others have done or studies are saying. YOUR WRONG AND WONT REALIZE IT TILL THEY WIN AGAIN IN COURT AND THE CITY HAS TO SHELL OUT MORE MONEY FOR COMPENSATION AND REPAYMENT FOR WHAT THEY SAID WAS RIGHT ALL THE WAY.

Anonymous said...

And we can still say, look at the over all budget and compare the tax to your fire tax. The overall fire tax int he City of Watertown is far less than what the town people pay for volunteer members. Do you own research and see how this is true. Paid department with someone there for your emergency in less than three minutes, or take the other way and pay more for the service that might show up in less than 5 or 6 to effectively do the job. I'm not saying the volunteers are bad at what they do, but just like our city government, they have other jobs which take precedent to support their family and their main concern is that, NOT losing time from work or pay to come and answer your emergency.

Anonymous said...

It amazes me how our council always drums and eats at the fire department when the budget of the Police is not too far behind it. There is really only a 700,000 gap between the fire and police budget. The police are even adding a lieutenant, when the fire lost positions, they are also starting up the impact team when the fire department is cutting community services.
The fire department is listed as receiving a grant for SCBA stuff which is 320,000. One new police vehicle is 35,000 maybe, and the fire truck is 450,000. There is a big difference in equipment and supplies for each department and really can't be compared. You are all the money crunchers and I really don't see the logic. Compare apples to apples and when it comes to public safety, don't hit the ones who will be saving your tax base which is already dwindling because of those moving from the city because of your leadership. Now you will lose more because they burn down and just don't rebuild because they don't like your style. How many thousands of dollars are paid to maintain the public safety building and clean it. I don't see the police doing the yard work, cleaning the windows or buildings they work in.. That's another position saved by the fire department because they do their own cleaning and maintenance. I agree with the previous posts that the city needs to cut where it needs to cut without creating a safety savings on us and the police and fire. Where will all the savings be when the budget gets slapped with a lawsuit from an injury or death.. I hope they are prepared to defend that...

Anonymous said...

If a including the cost of benefits with base salary is misleading according to WFD then why not cancel them? Come on. it is as much a cost to taxpayers as it would be to firefighters if they had to pay for them.

Anonymous said...


Not only is there a new position being added in PD but Parks and Recreation too. A clerk/typist is being proposed but the reality is that this person will be responsible for managing the concession stand.

Add yet another expense to the already too expensive arena. I had to look back to confirm this but I have confirmed that council added management concessions to Ms. Gardner's job responsibilities.

Are you telling me that she is too busy to run the concession, and that she needs to add more cost for the taxpayer? If she can not handle her job lets get someone who can. To me, it does not look like the FD is the problem, it looks like P&R is the problem. When are we going to start taming the cost down there? I guess if you party with the right people you can get around having to do anything to earn your inflated paycheck. Time to clean house in the COW!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Anonymous said...

As does any other job. Your interest in the bank is only about 1%. Why not close all the banks because their employees are being paid decent wages as well as their administration which i am sure makes a ton,but our return is 1%.
Mayor Butler says the average wage is 38,000. Show me the list of department heads, parks and rec, police and fire who are all making over 38,000. They all agreed to this wage and increase over the years. Don't make it their problem now when the city manager from before and the council voted to give the wages and pay increases. Now its all the employees fault. Who voted to spend Millions on a building with ice in it??????? Now where is the waste. The cops make money in tickets and fines, the fire make money in taxes because they save the tax base, other departments don't make money but we still have them?? Because they are needed.. move on and accept the responsibility of what past managers and councils have negotiated before now, don't blame the worker for taking advantage of the offers. Its a two way street. How much do teachers make in the city Mr. Butler??? Probably a lot more than the teachers at Faith Fellowship and IHC. Its a choice and who makes those choices have to live with them. Our school taxes go up and up but its for the kids and administration and wages.. we get it and don't hear you whining about that.. Hypocritical? I think maybe.

Anonymous said...

This is the big issue that won the mayor's seat for Butler, which he otherwise did not deserve.

It is amazing how tenacious those fire employees are with their unending comments trying to defend the indefensible. "but if you compare how bad we are f@#king the tax payers to how bad others are f@#king the tax payers, we are not so bad".

And once again they prove they do not care about safety as they suggest 24 hour shifts. As everyone knows the data is in and it is proven without a doubt that the longer the shift the less safe the shift. In other words, if they truly cared about safety they would ask and insist on 8 hour shifts that seldom rotate if ever. That is the safest shift boys...what do ya say? Speaking of boys...how many femal fire fighters are their?

Anonymous said...

Maybe the Mayor should get his facts straight before casting stones.

Anonymous said...

Joe comments on employees living in the COW. Please look to see how many live in the COW in other Dept's, also Dept Heads. Just off the top of my head for Dept. Heads, Addison, Gardner, Sligar, Wood, Pastuf, and Mix? Please fill in anyone left out then let us see a percentage.

Anonymous said...

And here come the comments from the fire queens and their surrogates. About time we hear the other side and the Mayor said it right. Enough is enough!

Anonymous said...

God save the fire queens. .

Anonymous said...

Weeks ago Glenn had the union prez on his show, He did a good job in explaining things, but it does come down to cost, and minimum staff is one of these things, But really there's more and this is all done with contract negotioations, Not on a radio show, or at a council meeting Ms. Macalouso and Mr. Butler..

Middle-Class Mike said...

"Well I guess going to see the Union during a Mayoral election didn't work for Mayor Butler! That really crossed a line, and it makes the current state of negotiations, appear botched by the Mayor and the Council!" Mike Flynn 'Middle Class Mike'

Anonymous said...

Butler used firefighters and their candidate to win. Now he complains. You made your bed Joe, lie in it.

Anonymous said...

7:39, You do relaize that 5:01, 5"10.5:44, 6:45, and 6:52 is the same poster. All Jeffie has to do is pull up previous postings regarding this issue and compare and contrast the postings. We can pretty much guess who this is. and 6:45 where are you obtaining your information from, a close acquaintance in City Hall. That is a no no.

Mayor Joe, did you not think this would come back and bite you?

Anonymous said...

What do 5:01, 5:22 and 5:44 look like they have in common?
I would bet that they were all made from a fire station while on the clock!
5:01 hints at the lawsuits that just might arise from this.
Nice, we pay this person to sit in a fire barn and make threats of legal actions against us using while our electricity and probably a city owned computer!
Sounds like a pretty typical organized labor tactic to me!

Previous city management allowed minimum staffing to be included in a contract for some reason.
Good on the present management for trying to get this out of the control of the worthless, money grubbing unions!

Anonymous said...

Mayor Butler is thinking of the Watertown taxpayers. Thank you. All these union costs and department management raises are bankrupting the city. I, too, agree that department heads and city firemen should live in the City. If they did, there would be a positive spin-off as dozens of houses would probably be better maintained and they would be contributing to the culture and betterment of Watertown.

Anonymous said...

I feel for the safety of old people if we don't shovel more money into the fire department. I'm with 5:01am, Idon't think we should even attempt to rein in the overtime pump or address issues of contracts. Give them what they want. Add more positions, leave the overtime game as it is. All you people who feel otherwise are going to learn your lesson when little children, the elderly, blind people, sexually confusted etc die in the burning flames of a tenement building. The thought of the charred remains of even one person brings tears to my eyes. Just think, if we don't continue on our present course, a firemen could be shot by an out of control gun, as recently happened in Maryland. I for one will not stand idly by while greedy politicians attempt to hurt the people who sacrifice so much to make so many people live long and prosper.

Anonymous said...

Managements Rights : Hours of work and conditions of employment.
What's the problem ??

Fireman aren't going on STRIKE.

Anonymous said...

Look at the percentage of City residents that work at the waste water plant, water department and DPW. Tell Joe the percentages of those employees. Very poor reason to attack WFD. You have valid reasons but was not one. Makes you look biased or ignorant, which is it?

Danny M. Francis (Eyepublius) said...

Let's face it, most one-sided political sides here hate Unions and have for decades.

Okay, if they do, go out and try to change that law ... P.S. you will have to go through Congress first.

I spoke my peace on the Hotline and in print and will on May 16th as well regarding this budget and constant attack on the WFD. Mayor Butler spoke his mind, and his right, but not that format. He was way off the mark. I sat there and I heard every word. He does not like nor want collective bargaining … sorry, Mr. Butler, it’s the law of the land and been since 1935.

The public forum format also precludes a citizen who speaks at the open mic to get back up and defend themselves if and when they are attacked from the bench like last night. That part is patently unfair. Don't invite the public to speak and then blast them for speaking. That is not fair or just or right.

I defend anyone against personal attacks, in office or not. As government officials don’t ask for public input and then blast the public for telling you how they feel. Listen to those you say you serve and who pay your salary; defend yourself, but stop attacking them in defense personally, again, like last night – don’t like the law, then work to change it, but don’t blast those who follow the law and abide by it.

I'm done now.

Anonymous said...

Cut the military retiree subsides on taxes. That would ease some stress.

Anonymous said...

How about a city income tax? If you earn it in Watertown you pay tax regardless if you live in the city.

Anonymous said...

The mayor does not seem to have a problem with his wife living in Watertown and accepting a paycheck from the Sackets Harbor school district's tax payers. I don't have a problem with it either, but I did not make that a shot at the firefighters. It sucks when you throw a stone that comes back and hits you in the face.

Anonymous said...

The city should quit using the phrase, "minimum staffing" and call it what it is. "excessive staffing", "union mandated excessive staffing", "bloated staffing". Anything other than minimum staffing would work, because that phrase implies it is a minimum for some other reason other than the the fact the union forced it into the contract in order to increase their number of jobs.

"Fires ore down 40% since 1985, but fire fighter positions are up 40% in the same time period."

"What do fire fighters do? (not fight fires)" They are doing the same thing here in the city that they have done everywhere else that their work has dried up...they go on medical calls and try to beat the ambulance there.

http://marginalrevolution.com/marginalrevolution/2012/07/firefighters-dont-fight-fires.html

Anonymous said...

Hey Danny 12:39 wants to go after you benefits, ha!

10:33 If you are a public servant or at all affiliated with the WFD and are posting this nonsense you should be terminated.

PS Your English and grammar throw a stain on the department if this is the average caliber of our firefighters. In your spare time instead of posting your nonsense please take some online English courses.

Anonymous said...

Is the contract that expired for City Fire the one where they took no raise for 3 years and an increase in health insurance because the council cried poverty. Then the city council turned around a few months later and signed 2 other contracts with WPD and the DPW union that gave them 3 and 4 percent raises for the same 3 years? And now they wonder why the IAFF has waged a PR war against the council.

Anonymous said...

Here's a thought check the NYS law on Residency for employees you will find that: Firefighters,Policeman, and Sanitation workers cannot be made to live in the municipality where they work, That being said years ago Civil Service was directed to have 2 lists of potential hires that passed Civil Service test for Police and Fire, this is how a person that came in 28th on the list was hired as a policeman...Oh and is it a conflict was a council person has a business that is now placing ads for his business for trash removal, should excuse himself from the discussion of getting rid of the Trash pickup in the COW??????

Anonymous said...

I want to know why Todd hasn't weighed in.

Anonymous said...

Dannie, it's not about hating unions. I wish you would get a new schtick. It's about paying bills and stop the wasting of money we don't have. I can understand your ilk. Your kind of thinking is what brought us the $19,000,000,000,000 national debt. Feelings aside my good man, we have to pay our bills.

Anonymous said...

Mr. Daugherty, the speaker at last nights meeting, has been a firefighter for four years. He made over $57,000 last year (per see through NY). If a 4 year veteran makes that much it would be must higher if you have been there 10 years. Then you have early retirement. Not a bad job.

Anonymous said...

Two thirds live outside the city! Maybe they are telling us we will be safe if we live in a jurisdiction with volunteer firefighters.

Anonymous said...

Last summer we had four firebombings in one night and on election day last year, we had a duzee of a fire too. It is obvious that Butler is playing with fire here. The union wants what the union wants. Its for the children and your safety and all that, they say.

They tried the, "that's a nice city you have there...be a shame if something were to happen to it" tactic and they still lost the election. What is their next step?

Anonymous said...

LOL 7:39!

Anonymous said...

The WFD members have taken nothing from the voter or taxpayers. They have "NEGOTIATED" what they have with the council, city manager and attorneys. There was an agreement and not a take from the taxpayers. Get that straight, and stop saying they took something from the taxpayers. As for the wages, the pay is the same for all firefighters and they 'CAP" at a wage after 5 years. Look at the contract which is open on the city's website too. the extra money after that is the holidays everyone gets, and the overtime the city gives them because they are short and need to meet the "minimum staffing" set by NFPA, and other professional standards as well as the three studies the city council has hired over the years. Its not the firemen's number exclusively. There are standards which are followed and you really need to get your facts straight. Its the tactic of CM and council not to hire, which makes them below the stafing levels which now makes room for overtime. Again, its the Council which directs the CM on decisions, and as long as they allow her to not hire, then they choose to raise the overtime levels for the men on the job because they are following the standard and agreement council made in years past. so stop blaming the fire men, and look to the real reasons why this is happening. Butler and the CM were just at the awards dinner for the police officers who are awarded life saving awards, and with all police in the room he tells a story about a "fireman" who helped him pick up papers when he was in Pulaski...he wanted to buy the young man lunch and he said it wasn't needed, because he was a fireman, and that's what we do...help people. How do you tell that story in a room full of police officers, then threaten the firemen the very next day...that's a "true politician" Nice job Joe.

Anonymous said...

Check out Parks and Recreation for residency especially for seasonal. At one time City Residents got preference if qualified now I see some friends from Adams area working seasonal jobs. Really? The new position in Parks I am told is to sit in the lobby and monitor that because the Administration is spread out on the second floor....little thought in layout I'd say!

Anonymous said...

The Fire union is not what has got us in this situation. See the 12,000,000 ice palace. See the consultants the previous council has hired over the years. See the city attorney. Mr. Butler has always been cost conscious. We are stuck with this elephant over at the Fairgrounds and the cuts have to come from somewhere else. Add the additional staffing for all departments over the past couple of years...see Parks and Recs and now you have your overages. Mr. Butler may not be a perfect mayor, but, he has quite the mess to clean up. Remember, he didn't want the ice palace, and he was spot on until he was forced to be a team player.

Anonymous said...


I do not blame Joe for trying to cut expenses, I just think he may be going bout it in the wrong way. Many comments here talk about excessive spending in other departments and these people are not wrong. The arena is an expenses that we just could not afford right now. Along with it has come an expansion in other costs especially in P&R. To blame everything on the fire department is not only inaccurate but unfair.

I worked for the city for many years and under several different city managers. A lot of the problems really expanded when Mary left. Mary had the background and knew the city very well. The decision to hire someone who did not have the necessary background and experience has been a disaster, and we are paying for it.

With contracts due for renewal in July, I hope the council will begin the process of repair by bringing in someone who can do the job. The longer this goes no the more damage gets done.

Anonymous said...

8:45 spews more BS from the fire union. The tax payers did not willingly agree to any negotiation with the fire union. They were forced to enter an agreement with the union because of New York law and because past city leaders were unwilling to fight them all the way to the end on behalf of the tax payer.

In addition, the main issue is not about salaries or wages or benefits, but rather about the union insisting on a contract that mandates a bloated overstaffed fire department with extra men sitting around waiting for a call that never happens. And so in order to look useful, they respond to calls that all he studies say they shouldn't be responding to.

And again the lie about NFPA must be debunked. NFPA does not set fire staffing levels, they have recommendations and if we listened to them, we would have mandatory fire sprinklers in every home. Fire sprinklers in every home is what they recommend. And that is just two of many equally melodramatic kneejerk over reaction recommendations by NFPA. NFPA is an organization made up of people who earn money in the fire protection business and their purpose is to increase the profits of the people who profit from the fire protection business.

Anonymous said...

7:41 What are you inferring?

Anonymous said...

What is the starting salary of a Watertown Fire fighter? What are "Kelly Days", between the two WFD and Correction officers who has the most side businesses??

Anonymous said...

7:31 the BS is straight from your lips, or fingers here.
The unions, whether it be police , fire, CsEA do not force the contract. if the city leaders that "YOU" voted for do not like it, they vote no and go to arbitration. Then the judge decides and that is who forces what the contract is, good for one, but maybe not good for the other. Yes you are right that NFPA recommends, but so does your insurance agent. You dont need the coverage you have but the expert agent you use talks you into the insurance you probably have NOT used, so you are properly protected. You are not forced to go to the doctor for your annual physical and blood work, but you do because you know the consequences. Dont talk about force, because the things that benefit you personally are really not a force,but a choice and thats what has been made in past years. Many here follow MANY recommendations from experts and those who are qualified, now why isn't it the same thing for the city unions, in police/dpw/ fire/ and csea to be looked at the same way.
I for one, used the fire department on a medical call once before when a family member was suffering a heart attack. Look up the dangers of that and while being the most common cause of death in AMERICA, it was well treated by fire persons before the ambulance got here and thankfully so, it saved a life. Maybe if it was your house, you would think different about what is little and what is not.

Anonymous said...


they do recommend sprinklers in homes and because many lives are saved in homes/buildings with sprinklers than those without. Just like smoke detectors. How many lives are lost because they do not have smoke detectors?
The sprinkler issue is still being enforced. Many codes follow NFPA, and if the codes follow them, what does that tell you.
Research your codes and many of them are referenced to NFPA. Now doesnt that tell you how important their group is?????
Just saying.

Anonymous said...

8:31
you English shows your job is taking state money while you sit home, because at 8:31 in the am, your not at work and probably not going to work.
"Who has (singular) the most side businesses (plural). Just don't equal as your comment with common sense.
Good Try and try some night courses or take your GED during the day.. but that is considered work too and probably out of your dictionary.

Enjoy your day(S) off on us taxpayers.

Anonymous said...

3:20 Please join 8:31; you need help also.