DA Asked to Help Get Answers about Fire Negotiations; Nurses Lend Support

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Former Town Councilor and current Governor’s Councilor Marilyn Petitto Devaney has appealed to the Middlesex District Attorney for answers about the cost of negotiations on the Watertown Firefighters’ contract.

The Watertown Firefighters continue to push for approval of their contract after more than 5 1/2 years and following the Town Council’s rejection of a state arbitration agreement in December.

The negotiation teams have met since the vote, but little ground has been made toward settling the contract according to those familiar with the negotiations.

All but one Town Councilor voted to reject the agreement, stating that the agreement would be unfair to the town’s other unions because it included increases that they did not receive during difficult budget years.

Petitto Devaney told the Town Council last week that she has written a letter to Middlesex DA Marian Ryan seeking help to get answers from town officials.

“I am respectfully requesting your assistance,” the letter reads. “Watertown’s Town Manager Michael Driscoll has repeatedly ignored requests at public meetings th past months to provide the cost of legal fees paid to Watertown’s Town Attorneys, Kopelman and Paige regarding the Watertown Firefighters contract.”

Petitto Devaney, whose late husband Jack retired as a lieutenant in the Watertown Fire Department, said she was saddened when the arbitrator’s agreement was voted down, and asked the town to work toward settling the contract.

“We as a community of responsible citizens need to step back and look at this issue yet again,” she said. “The signs that people place at their homes supporting our firefighters are demanding just that.”

Also at the meeting, Deputy Chief Rob Iannetta read from a letter sent to Local 1347, the Watertown fire union, from the state nurses union.

Donna Kelly-Williams, president of the Massachusetts Nurses Association, pledged her support of the Watertown firefighters.

“The MNA is appalled at Watertown’s recent decision to reject the arbitration agreement,” Iannetta said, reading from the letter. “The Town Council’s decision shows a disregard for the arbitration process and negotiated in bad faith.”

Driscoll said the Town Council did not have to approve the arbitration agreement, and that the town fulfilled its requirement by putting it up for consideration.

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