Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Fire Away

Mayor James Sottile e-mailed city aldermen, asking them how they would pay to fill positions left empty by retirements in the fire department if the city abides by the contract with the Kingston Professional Firefighters Association. The contract says positions must be filled.

The union correctly says that the city is required to replace the three firefighters who retired last year. Sottile has said he offered retirement incentives and wanted to save money by leaving the positions unfilled. The union filed a grievance in response.

Sottile filed a lawsuit to prevent the grievance from going to arbitration even though the contract clearly states that they should do so in the event of a dispute.

Last week, a state Supreme Court judge ruled the firefighters had a right to bring the matter to arbitration. Sottile is appealing that ruling.

Sottile is pulling the old bait and switch now and trying to shift the "problem" to lawmakers who have suggested the Mayor does not have a solid court case in the position he has taken refusing to abide by the contract - THAT HE SIGNED.

Alderwoman Jennifer Fuentes of Ward 5 and Common Council Majority Leader Bill Reynolds, D-Ward 7, already have suggested Sottile's case is weak. They both realize and agree that according to the contract authorized by the previous Common Council and signed by the mayor, the Firefighters have every right to seek arbitration.

“Unfortunately, some of our employees in the police and fire departments don’t recognize the seriousness of the economic (situation) that we in the Northeast and the entire country are in,” Alderman Charles Landi said.

Alderwoman Andi Turco-Levin, R-Ward 1, who took office this year, said the latest contracts were negotiated during a time when an economic crisis was looming and she feels that not "enough consideration was given to these issues when contracts were negotiated back in 2007".

Sottile's e-mail demanded that those who think the city should give up its court case give clear ideas on how to pay to fill the three positions.

Sottile wrote, “I am being advised by some members of the council not to appeal the decision and hire three firefighters immediately. I am asking those of you who feel that these positions should be filled please give me some suggestions on how we can pay to fill these positions from the current budget.

“I would be happy to review your suggestions to see if this can be accomplished.”

Here are a couple good, solid ideas: cut some of the fat you have in that front office in your "economic development" department - who haven't economically developed shit but a drug store in 10 years or created any meaningful jobs for our residents and ax a few of the other do nothings you have wearing ties and suits and hire the three Firemen - just like YOU agreed to do when you negotiated the contract. At least they will actually do some work for their taxpayer paychecks.

If you don't like that one - fire whatever attorney you wasted our money on who helped you negotiate that contract. Don't blame the Fireman who came to that table in good faith.

Or better yet "Mayor" .....offer to cut your pay to make up for not thinking ahead or negotiating a better contract with better language in regard to retirement incentives.

Try this in the future Jimmy - think ahead for once and really do your job - and include that flip flopping Landi in this - Blaming the unions for everything when it's you two that constantly screw up is making you both look like asses every time you open your mouths.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Pants On Fire?

Here's the story - The Firefighters union, who were in good graces with the Mayor of Kingston for delaying their raises are now in a slight conflict with their former buddy. They filed a grievance claiming that the city must fill three positions left vacant when three firefighters retired last year through a retirement incentive program.

Sottile filed a lawsuit last year to prevent the Kingston Firefighters Association Local 461 from seeking arbitration on the grievance. Problem is that the Firefighters are following exactly what the contract - that Sotille agreed to and signed - says.

Seems like Sottile has a slight habit of agreeing to things and then renegging on them later - that's not how it works in big boy land.

A state Supreme Court judge has ruled that the union has the right seek arbitration on whether Mayor James Sottile must fill three firefighter positions left vacant. Once again and to be clear, the contract that Sottile agreed to says the union has a right to bring the matter to arbitration.

Sottile said Wednesday the city has filed an appeal with the state Supreme Court Appellate Division. Talk about wasting the taxpayers money!

The mayor said he will not fill the positions until the matter is decided through the court system. That is fine - that is what he should do - that is his right.

But then he says:
“I am not going to do it. The city of Kingston is not in the position to ... hire firefighters. You have to be able to have the right to manage and when you take control out of management’s hands, that is not a healthy organization.”

The decision said the union has the RIGHT TO ARBITRATE - not that they are correct in saying the three new firefighters need to be hired.

On a more stable note, Tom Tiano, President of the Firefighters said the decision was a victory for the union, but it did not settle the matter of whether the three positions would be filled. See? Tom understands

“We are very pleased that the judge has ruled in our favor,” Tiano said.

Tiano said that the contract is clear that when there is a grievance it must be resolved by an arbitrator. He also said it is clear in the contract, which was approved by the Common Council and endorsed by Sottile, that firefighters must be replaced.

“We are willing to abide by an (arbitrator’s) decision, and it seems to me that the city should honor the same thing,” Tiano said.

Sottile said if some ruling does wind up directing the city to hire back the firefighters there will be consequences.

Probably said while stamping up and down in his City of Kingston Taxpayer paid boots.

“Either raise taxes or lay people off,” Sottile said. Hey Jimmy, try that in the overloaded front office once in awhile.

Tiano said the union was “disappointed” to hear such comments from the mayor.

Looks like yet another honeymoon is over and Sottile has another union President is fight with. Point is, boths sides need to abide by what is right and what they agreed upon - no matter how that comes out.

Like we have said in the past - vote for the person not the party - ya hear us Democrats?