There are a couple of schools of thought on where the Fire Department spat heads. One is arbitration in which the current contract survives and a new path to impasse begins. Maybe a little court fight over whether demotions can be done arbitrarily in a city that can't argue inability to pay.
The other view is that by eliminating the eight captain slots, it increases pressure for the union to deal on manning in order to restore pay for eight members likely not pleased at a $200 a week pay cut. That plus some other compensation (or 24 hour shifts) for surrendering the manning clause that is at the heart of all this despite the detours into overtime and sick time. Council can reward current employees but needs to also win new pay schedules for new hires including getting rid of steps and longevity. It's complicated but a deal needs to be reached that ensures service for years to come, including the years when the hydro deal runs out.
Some union members know they have something of value that can be monetized. Others argue for preserving future jobs and public safety.
Council only accepted a part of the reorganization and that may or may not have been wise, but a veteran observer of City politics crowed to me this week that Council didn't blink and called the union's bluff. It's also thought the public has turned on the issue as well.
Imagine how much more interesting it would be if a captain had actually been a part of the Council decision on eliminating captains ?
Watertown Daily Times | Watertown City Council adopts $42 million budget with 1.48% tax rate hike