Monday, May 16, 2016

WDT: Watertown officials and fire department continue negotiations, Butler argues department is too costly

      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

25 comments:

Anonymous said...

These three words say it all! "Years of CBA's".

These were collective bargaining agreements made by our former city manager and her predecessors that basically gave away the farm.
We are in the predicament currently as a result of the poor negotiating skills of the folks who were in place to safeguard our best interests.
Our current manager is the first to make a stand and for that she has my respect!

Getting rid of the minimum manning will not be an easy task if possible at all. From where I sit it looks like it would be easier to get rid of the entire department and go with contracted labor or go all volunteer or a mix of paid and volley.
The union is not going to willingly abandon the right to fleece the city. Unions feel that once something has been negotiated in it is there for eternity, chiseled in stone.
I paid union dues for over 30 years before I went to the management side so I know of what I speak. Unions are for the most part good but they do not seem to have the ability to see when they have pushed things too far and are pricing themselves out of a job.

Anonymous said...

So lets see the Police Departments wages, maybe some Sackets Harbor teachers while we are at it. Now compare FD and PD wages and benefits to comparable cities. The numbers they put out mean nothing without something to comapare to, apples for apples. Better yet drop all the BS public debate and go to arbitration, both sides present their case and let the judge rule. Enough is enough. Really have not heard any facts or figures from the union, only lawn signs. Might get interesting if they start throwing out numbers that the 3rd floor might not want out there. So this City Manager started out how much higher than Mary? Nothing to show for that either. Are all management staff required to live in city? If not why not? Fair for one fair for all. This city is so corrupt it is not even funny

Anonymous said...

How do you know its unlikely the city would win in binding arbitration? Are you a labor negotiations expert? I guess it WAS a waste of money hiring the expert legal eagle from down state after all. all they had to do is ask you to do it instead.

Anonymous said...

I don't feel sorry for them they all were for him being Mayor. Same shit will happen with Trump.

Anonymous said...

7:42, at least Butler makes a stand and doesn't back off of he thinks its a negative financial outcome because he's worried about his political career. How many timed has Jeff said he regrets his McDonalds on Washington Street vote and knew it wasn't right?

Unions have their place, but we can't bankrupt the city for their tactics.

Anonymous said...

Cuts should start at the top with way over paid department heads!
And what about the police overtime? they are not exactly the little sisters of the poor...

Anonymous said...

Mayor Butler has not set a good example as a city leader for ALL citizens. Perhaps the mayor can answer my 8yr old when she asks why the mayor doesn't like daddy and his work?

Anonymous said...

7:42, um, like, er, what the hell are you talking about?

Anonymous said...

I agree with the fire dept don't just single us out , I think they should cut the other unions also . You all wanted that arena upgrade that will never pay for itself so stop crying now when we need to make the necessary cuts to balance the budget. THE DAY OF BLEEDING THE TAXPAYER IS OVER !

Anonymous said...

I think Mr. Butler has gone about this in a extremely unprofessional manner. Piss poor leader if you ask me.

Anonymous said...

Yes, i would like to see a comparison to the PD.
What is their wage, overtime, and benefit package.
The fire men took wage increases over the past three years, but what about when they took 0% and the cops still took 3%. Maybe there should be a chart of the wages over the years, contract increase in pay over the years so the public can see that. Otherwise, maybe there should be a harassment filed against the city since they are just bringing out the facts, and questioning one group. Mayor Butler is such a coward to do this to the ones who save the money and tax base to the city when there is an emergency. I dont see the cops, or DPW, or city hall people out there during a snow storm, flood, ice storm or whatever else hits this city protecting the city assets which generate them money. How many hidden positions are in the Police Department that cost us money. How about the old Desk Sargent who now is just a paper pusher, or the DARE officer who works with the kids, but we still have CRIME and DRUGS. I'm sure he makes a difference but so we really need that? How about all the lieutenants who over see the sergeants who over see shifts. How many watchers do we need. How many detectives and drug task force people do we really need? DRUGS are still there and adding even more of them will not solve anything. I wish someone in the Sackets Harbor district will chime in on what their teachers make in wages and pay increases for a comparison. I'm sure they dont want to give up anything they have now...In fact you show all this about the fire department, and that is negotiations. They all agreed on this before and gave up something to get this. Maybe you should remove something you Dad has now that he is retired.. would that be fair..

Anonymous said...

11:49 you can find salaries for teachers and police on see through new york website. I am interested in your findings. Numbers employed for WPD is in the COW budget. I agree it seems like Butler is singling out WFD. All dept's should help balance the budget especially high salaried dept heads.

Anonymous said...

How do you put a dollar value on safety and security? Does more money mean the city will be safer?

Anonymous said...

I find it fascinating that the same person on Management staff rallying against the FD and raises for anyone, Is the City Comptroller, didn't his wife just get a 30K raise??

Anonymous said...


Time for City of Watertown to teach the Firemen that
" the Tail does not wag the Dog ".

It is what it is and enough is enough.

Juston's Take On Government said...

Stop with the exposer Butler, you are going to divide our departments pitting one against the other it will only cause angst amongst the elderly, other not so wealthy residents like yourself! Your not the fucking federal prosecutor from the city this is not the way to go about it. leaking, dripping what ever the fuck you call it is not good governance. It is turning into a dog and pony show you have been in there only a 6 month span. You are telling people to give up some of there wages when you are a banker Joe. Have you ever worked an honest hard working day in your life?

Anonymous said...

Nobody asked you, Dan. I mean 10:21. The only leading you do is cheerleading. Never for your country, only your party.

Anonymous said...

Keep up the good work Joe!!! This is what you put in in charge for.
The taxpayers are behind you 100%
History will judge you as one of the greatest mayors the city has ever had. Your vision and anylisis on this issue is ahead of its time. Most politicians are satisfied to stick with the status quo, but you have the courage to stick with what is right. My hat is off to you.

Anonymous said...

8:11, spot on agree with you.

Juston's Take On Government said...

Hi 8:11 I'm a tax payer is this what we want? our leader to come in and gut our public employees contracts.Pitting one against the other, make sure your beloved mayor understands the reason he won the primary against Steve was the simple fact Steve tried to say he was going to do what Joe is doing. If you have the house with 6 bathrooms and a indoor pool with an assessment up above 400 k you cant afford it anymore sell, start living within your means. Your lying to the public if you say your saving taxpayers money. When your only going to move this money to the Police force start telling the truth so everyone knows your abolishing from the firemen to give to the police guy!!!!! that is the truth.

Anonymous said...

Juston, get some help before posting. Someone you know and love can help you organize your thoughts.

Juston's Take On Government said...

There fine thank you when you get some self confidence to be who you are I will get help. I love when Anon poster try to give me advice. It just warms my little heart. We will just call Joe Butler, Steve Jennings from now on.

Anonymous said...

You seem to have a lot of pent up anger there Juston.
Relax and take deep breaths... get a hobby.

Anonymous said...

The particular problem for the firemen this contract go around is Butler and Jennings have backbones, are unafraid, and are smart. The days of rolling over for fear of bullying and political backlash by this union are over. Addison and the Council should hold firm, and we finally have a political leader in Butler to do it.

Juston's Take On Government said...

I love to garden just ask the blog owner. Why is it anger when it is the truth? Joe played both sides of the fence before the election. He had all the love in the world from the Unions, fireman, there family's. I have to be honest I don't like that shit. It goes along way with the people when you say your going to represent them your for them but really your bending them over the hot coals!!!