I just sent this to the Herald:
To the editor:
Here’s what the Boston Firefighters Union seems to be saying: “We deserve to be compensated fairly. There is little we can do to force the city to pay us more, because legally and ethically, we have to keep working no matter what. Therefore, we must use issues like mandatory drug testing as negotiating tools.”
Boston’s government is a business, not a charity. The mayor has an obligation to Boston’s taxpayers to obtain city services at the lowest possible cost. I’m sure he respects Boston’s firefighters and wants them to be compensated fairly. However, it appears that they are, judging from the facts that firefighters aren’t quitting in large numbers and there are more applicants than jobs in the BFD.
Firefighters can’t strike, but they can quit. Ed Kelly should come to the table with the number of firefighters who will quit if the union doesn’t get what it wants, along with the cost of hiring and training replacements. Then, if the negotiations fail, the firefighters who said they’d quit need to follow through. Proving to Menino that it will cost less to give the union what it wants is the only way he’ll get it.
If Kelly can’t find enough fellow firefighters willing to put their jobs on the line, then Menino is correct not to accede to the union’s demands.