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Appellate Court Decision Rules on Watertown (NY) Firefighter’s Union

Old fire truck

Craig Fox

Watertown Daily Times, N.Y.


WATERTOWN — The city and the firefighters’ union can each claim they’ve come away with victories in their latest court decision.

On Friday, a decision by the Appellate Division, Fourth Judicial Department, Rochester, was released regarding assigning fire captains to work out-of-title.

It’s the last of a series of court proceedings that the city and Watertown Professional Firefighters’ Association, Local 191, had initiated over the years during their lengthy labor dispute.

Both sides took something from the appellate division’s decision, said Daniel Daugherty, president of Local 191.

The appellate division affirmed a decision by state Supreme Court Judge James P. McClusky, who ruled that the city cannot continue to assign captains out-of-title on the rescue truck.

The appellate division also agreed with Judge McClusky’s decision in which the city is not prohibited from assigning fire captains to municipal training officer duties.

“It’s a status quo decision,” Mr. Daugherty said.

The union had argued that a battalion chief should be responsible for the municipal training officer.

“We conclude that Supreme Court, for reasons stated in its decision, properly determined that the fire captain was not assigned out-of-title work, but that the firefighters were assigned out-of-title work,” according to Friday’s appellate division decision.

In August, the city and the bargaining unit agreed on a new four-year agreement that covers 2016 through June 30 of this year and gives firefighters 2.5 percent raises for each year of the new contract.

They’ve begun negotiations for a new agreement that will cover from July 1 and on. The two sides will meet again Dec. 3.

The main sticking point has been, and remains, the city’s insistence on eliminating minimal manning, a stipulation that 15 firefighters must be on duty at all times.

The city spent more than $900,000 in court fees using a Long Island attorney in its fight with the union.

City Attorney Robert J. Slye is now representing the city in negotiations.

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