Tough negotiations with firefighters’ union forecast in Haverhill

Here's another example of municipal officials trying to save money vs. public sector workers trying (like everyone else) to preserve their incomes in a tough economy. From the Eagle-Tribune's Shawn Regan:

He may have been the last person Mayor James Fiorentini wanted to find on the other side of the negotiating table.

A fire captain who has publicly feuded with the mayor and who is suing the fire chief in federal court on charges of harassment and retaliation is now representing the city's 90 firefighters as their union president.

Acting fire Capt. Paul Weinburgh took over last week as union president. He defeated former union President Tyler Kimball in a union election last month.

The biggest bone of contention is overtime:

Fiorentini said the Fire Department has already used 90 percent of its overtime budget, with five and a half months left in the fiscal year. In January alone, the department has spent $120,000 in overtime, he said.

One reason overtime costs are up, the mayor said, is that firefighters who are held at work past 8 a.m. while they wait for a replacement have demanded they be paid at least two hours of overtime, even if they were required to stay only for five or 10 minutes. Weinburgh said that provision is guaranteed in the current contract. But he also said the union is willing to talk to the mayor about changing the overtime provision.