A Watertown, NY firefighter has filed a complaint with the state Civil Service Commission after the city demoted 8 captains earlier this month.
During a city council meeting in late May, the mayor told TWC News that the demotions would help save the city about $70,000.
“We think we’re top-heavy and we think this restructuring will help eliminate that… and still preserve the number of personnel we have,” Mayor Joe Butler said.
Other city leaders have echoed that sentiment saying there is a “disproportionate level of officer supervision in the department.”
The re-ranking from captain to unit leader doesn’t sit well with the firefighters. They contend, first off, that the term “unit leader” doesn’t exist in state civil service and they’re essentially doing the same things now as they did as captains. City officials say that unit leaders have ‘similar’ job responsibilities as captains.
The unidentified firefighter who filed the complaint says the city is violating state Civil Service laws as well as the Public Employees’ Fair Employment Act.
The matter is heading into arbitration, as the former captains stand to lose about 20% of their annual salary.
City Manager Sharon Addison told the Watertown Daily Times that the two sides met on Tuesday for an all-day “impact bargaining” meeting–where the union formally addressed the compensation issue regarding the demotions.
For about two years now the city and union have been embroiled in a bitter contract dispute.
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