“I don’t feel I’m doing battle with the fire department,” O’Neill said, stating he took personal issue with the public comments. “This is not an easy task to walk a fine line for these men and women and provide for their families.”
The amendment passed 5-2. Paul Gassman and Grant Wilke voted against it.
“The problem is we are now cutting the needs that our city employees have been providing,” Wilke said. “It costs money to provide those services.”
Since the contract changed, it’s back in the hands of the firefighters to decide if the new terms are acceptable. If not, the city and the union could enter arbitration.
Union rep Chris Melvin said after the meeting that he was unsure how the news will be received.
“I don’t know how they can come back with a different contract,” Melvin said. “Basically we have to go back to negotiations, which is what I’m getting out of it.”
If arbitration is to come, O’Neill said that might not mean a negative outcome for Clinton.
“If there’s someplace we can find money other than through a human body,” he said, “taking one less person off the fire department, we’ll do.”