City, fire union to begin talks about new contract

City residents and business owners display signs in support of the Watertown City Fire Department. Watertown Daily Times

WATERTOWN — City officials and the firefighters’ union have scheduled their first negotiating session to talk about a new contract.

The two sides will meet on Jan. 22 to set the tone of the talks after resolving a five-year labor dispute in November.

Daniel Daugherty, president of the Watertown Professional Firefighters Association Local 191, said there’s little to talk about publicly until they meet face to face.

Both sides will exchange their demands at the first meeting, he said.

He’s concerned that the city will want to bring up a minimum manning issue once again that requires 15 firefighters to be on duty at all times. That issue was a sticking point to the stalled talks last time.

The City Council met in executive session on Monday night to discuss the negotiations.

Councilwoman Lisa Ruggiero said she was optimistic coming out of the meeting, saying she thinks the city has a couple of things to offer right away.

“We’ll wait to see what happens,” she said.

The two sides avoided further arbitration on Nov. 23, ending their contentious legal battles. The firefighters have not had a contract since 2014.

Johnson Newspapers 7.1

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