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December 8, 2012

Plattsburgh mayor blasts fire union over arbitrator's decision

(Continued)

The mayor said the police union got higher raises because its members agreed to pay more for health insurance and to allow drug and alcohol testing, which the fire union refused to do.

“The police got better raises because they gave up some things,” Kasprzak said. “The firefighters won’t give anything up.”

CITY CRITICIZED

Feazelle said the city has not always negotiated in good faith.

“They always ask for things, but they never offer us anything,” he said.

He said the union would have agreed to alcohol and drug testing if the mayor and fire chief were required to do so, but they refused.

Kasprzak said that was never discussed with him.

“I don’t have anything to hide, but that was never brought to me,” he said.

‘DEFIES LOGIC’

Kasprzak said the city will pay the union the money that was awarded by the arbitrator by the end of the year but will continue to seriously look at how the department can be restructured.

“This decision will cost the taxpayers in excess of $700,000. It defies logic and will be a contributing factor in raising taxes in 2013 and beyond,” he said.

The mayor also said he suspects members of the union and their families will blast him with personal comments on social media, as they have done in the past.

“They can flex their Internet muscles all they want. That doesn’t bother me,” he said. “They are the most selfish group I’ve ever seen in my life.”

ARBITRATION ARGUMENT

Feazelle said it was the mayor who wanted to go to arbitration.

“He’s the one who wanted to do this, and now he is complaining about the result.”

Feazelle said the arbitrator made that decision because he knows that the younger firefighters, who start out at a salary of about $27,000 per year, are struggling financially.

“We have some guys that qualify for food stamps.”

Email: Joe LoTemplio:jlotemplio@pressrepublican.com

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