The Third Floor put out numbers today designed to increase public pressure for a hard line against the firefighters union. Mayor Butler put out a release outlining wages, benefits and other costs he says are beyond the city's ability to sustain.
Years of CBA's have escalated fire and police pay to levels more than twice the average earned by the people they serve. Raises, steps, retirement, and medical all have chugged upward over the years.
Today's released singles out the smoke eaters but the same pay and benefits exist for other uniformed employees not currently at odds with management.
The City is seeking to end the minimum manning language that requires 15 firemen always on duty. That's unlikely to be agreed to and its doubtful the City would win that concession in binding arbitration. The Mayor hints the City wants to restructure rank and reduce the number of captains and introduce a lower starting wage for new recruits.
Recent CBAs have only nibbled at things like health co-pays. Last year the City Manager and City Attorney in earnest pushed a majority of Council to hire outside labor counsel to battle the union. So far there is nothing to show, but the public relations campaign to explain the cost seem a new strategy, although it was suggested and ignored last year.
Watertown Daily Times | Watertown officials and fire department continue negotiations, Butler argues department is too costly