I cannot emphasize enough how important I believe it is to re-elect the following seven incumbents:
Mark Sideris, Council President; Councilors at Large Susan Falkoff and Aaron Dushku; District Councilors Angeline Kounelis – District A, Cecilia Lenk – District B, Vincent Piccirilli – District C and Ken Woodland – District D.
Like everyone I am happy that the fire issue is now behind us with he adoption of a revised, more equitable agreement for the town and the residents. However, I think there are a few more things to say and also a lesson for all of us to learn.
Everyone knows and appreciates what a fine job the Watertown Fire Department does. And everyone has a friend or neighbor on the department. So it is not surprising they had some support in the community. But that was never the issue here.
The issue was that the Town Manager and the Town Council wanted to treat everyone equally and the Fire Union wanted more than everyone else.
First, regarding the Councilors:
Most elected officials would never risk substantial political capital by standing up to a strong special interest group like the fire union, unless it was for a very good reason.
When eight out of nine councilors take that risk you can be absolutely sure it is for the right reason.
These eight councilors have shown remarkable political courage throughout this issue, the likes of which you very seldom see locally, statewide or nationally.
They did it to treat all employees equally and for the good of the town.
They deserve re-election!
Here are two quotes from knowledgable, credible sources that really state the case and get to the heart of the matter.
A quote from the late-Mayor Menino on the Boston Police award, Sept. 28, 2013.
“The award is too expensive. It continues a pattern of awards that are too expensive. Public safety unions have no reason to negotiate with us in good faith and settle contracts voluntarily because arbitrators have proven they will always give more.
“The only solution is for the City Council to vote this down and break this cycle. Other cities and towns have said no and returned these awards back to the table. It’s the only way to protect the city from these awards and break this irresponsible pattern.”
The second quote is from Jeff Jacoby of the Boston Globe, Oct. 2, 2013.
“The staggering award to the Boston Police which amounts to more than twice the pay raise accepted by 30 of the city’s other unions, is only the latest evidence that arbitration is invariably a suckers game for the taxpayer. The same was true in 2010 when an arbitrator ruled that the Boston firefighters should be awarded with a 19 percent over 4 years.
“The most obvious problem with arbitration in government labor negotiations is that it erodes any incentive for unions to negotiate in good faith. So why shouldn’t unions stone wall until the city or town agrees to arbitration? They know perfectly well that the arbitrators will never come back with less than what the government has already put on the table.”
I believe this is exactly what happened here in Watertown, and we should learn from it.
I also believe the council made the right vote when they voted the award down last December and got a more equitable agreement for the town and the residents.
These seven councilors have done a rare thing and set a good example for all elected officials. They have put our interests before their own political well-being.
Support them and that principal by re-electing them all.