e deal complies with the state’s civil service laws. Ortt added that the city and county have offered a $1,400 travel stipend for the first year of the move as an added incentive. As county employees, the dispatchers will be eligible for larger raises in the future, as well. Niagara County is not under a wage freeze, as North Tonawanda is.
When asked about the union’s position on seniority by the News on Thursday, Ortt made it clear he thought city’s p
resent offer is plenty generous.
“The city council and myself are going above and beyond to address all their concerns,” Ortt said. “They’re getting a larger raise, additional stipend for the rest of the year, better health benefits — when is it enough? To me it’s a standard money grab. The public employees unions’ image is at a low point. I really believe it’s things like this” that are the reason why.
Ortt said he plans to talk to Davignon today and meet with several dispatchers next week.
Davignon said while some of the dispatchers have been involved with occasional talks, the union has only met with the mayor once. He also said his union members have yet to sign an agreement. Should negotiations further erode, the union would then move to arbitration, which if not resolved could delay the transfer beyond the city- and county-projected July 1 deadline — or scuttle it entirely if an arbitrator sides with the union.
Davignon said the two sides are not to that point yet and he’s prepared to remain at the bargaining table to resolve the seniority-related issues.
“Right now we want to keep continue negotiating,” he said.