Press-Republican

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December 8, 2012

Plattsburgh mayor blasts fire union over arbitrator's decision

(Continued)

“City firefighters work approximately 65 to 80 days per year, while all other city full-time employees are scheduled to work at least 240 days per year. The fire schedule allows city firemen to hold a second full-time job. No other city department has, nor should ever have, a manning clause, because personnel costs are by far the most costly item in any government budget.”

Feazelle said 24-hour shifts and minimum staffing were never brought up during negotiations.

“They never asked for that. These are just his talking points that he uses to incite the taxpayers.”

OFFERS CONTRACT

Kasprzak noted that the firefighters often compare their contract to the Police Department contract, citing 3.9 percent raises the police received in their latest settlement.

The Police Department has 48 employees, but there is no staffing requirement.

At the meeting, the mayor publicly offered firefighters the exact contract the police have if they want it.

“But they won’t agree to it because it would get rid of 24-hour shifts and the staffing clause,” the mayor said.

Feazelle said he and the negotiating team would bring that offer, and any other reasonable offer, to union membership for a vote if it were formally presented to them.

“If it was 12-hour shifts or eight-hour shifts, it wouldn’t matter. If the team felt it was fair, then we would put it forward for a vote,” he said.

COMPARABLE RAISES

Feazelle said the union has tried to be fair in its negotiations over the past five years, asking for raises that are no higher than the city’s other three unions received.

He said the union sought raises of 3 percent the first three years of the five-year period they have been without a new contract and 2.5 percent for the final two years.

“The police got 3.9 percent for four years, MLD (Municipal Lighting Department) got 3 percent, and that is what we were asking for,” Feazelle said.

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