With one dispute resolved, Watertown and firefighters optimistic about the future
Watertown officials are hopeful that the New Year will usher an end to the long-standing contract disputes between the city and the local firefighter union.
The legal feud between the two has dragged on for five years now, but recently the city settled with the union over its violation of a contract clause that required keeping a minimum of 15 firefighters on duty at all times.
Outgoing Watertown Mayor Joe Butler said with that out of the way, the city and union can begin negotiating the retroactive contracts that were stalled due to litigation.
"All the heavylifting is done," Butler said. "All the major obstacles in terms of the disputes - really they have been settled and now it will just be the nuts and bolts of pay and health care and things of that nature."
Union President Dan Daugherty said Watertown officials have yet to reach out about the next step, but he is hopeful. A new mayor and city councilor are taking office in January.
"I would love to have a contract that is current," Daugherty said. "The majority of my time at the fire department has been on expired contracts. It would be nice to have things kind of plotted out for the next few years and put some distance between the animosity that came from the different directives and contract violations that have occurred over the past few years."
After the 2016-2018 and 2018-2020 contracts are negotiated, the plan is to begin negotiations on the 2020-2022 contract.