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Judge Orders End to 24-Hour Shift

A Superior Court judge is ordering the town to restore firefighters' previous hours and salaries by the weekend.

 

The 24-hour shift for North Kingstown's firefighters may be no more by the end of the weekend. On Monday, Superior Court Judge Brian Stern has ordered town officials to return the North Kingstown Fire Department to its previous hours and salaries by Feb. 11.

In January 2012, the North Kingstown Town Council passed an ordinance mandating 24-hour shifts for the town's firefighters, increasing the work week from 42 to 56 hours, eliminating one platoon and decreasing firefighters' hourly wages. The new ordinance was implemented in March 2012 and, since then, the town and fire union (Local 1651) have been embroiled in a series of court battles.

Back in December 2012, Judge Stern ordered the town to "unring the bell," stating that the council did not have the right to make those unilateral changes to the fire department after losing the issue in arbitration a year before. 

According to Local 1651 Union President Ray Furtado, these changes have put a burden on the town's firefighters, forcing some to work double shifts due to understaffing. In statements to The Hummel Report, Furtado said that the down is liable for approximately $1.3 million in damages and backpay since the 24-hour shift went into effect in March.

Following Stern's order to "unring the bell," both sides returned to the bargaining table to renegotiate. A tentative agreement was ratified by the union, but was vetoed unanimously by the council over the weekend. 

Check back for updates on this story.

CONCERNED AND OVER TAXED CITIZEN February 06, 2013 at 06:25 PM
To Jeff Crawford In answer to your question about a 20 % drop in pension, yes we have had setbacks in our pension and health care plans being under funded but we voluntarily took several dollars out of our hourly wage to fully fund and reinforce these plans. We did not go to our employers with our hand out. Again read my first statement and digest it. CONCERNED AND OVER TAXED CITIZEN
CONCERNED AND OVER TAXED CITIZEN February 06, 2013 at 08:08 PM
To Jeff Crawford, In response to your comment about what if my pension was cut 20%. Yes, we have had setbacks in our retirement plan and health plan and have had to allocate several dollars from our hourly wage and allocate to those 2 plans at our own expense to reinforce these plans. It is about time that the firefighters union came down to earth with the private sector. For 20 years or more there were promises made that were unreasonable and could never be met without bankrupting these communities. Please reread my statement in my former post and try to understand the meaning of monopoly. Thank you. Concerned and Over Taxed Citizen
I'm Tired of the Games February 06, 2013 at 09:18 PM
Any word on how the "brain trust" of lawbreakers did with Judge Stern today with their request of a stay?
Govstench February 07, 2013 at 01:07 AM
Collective bargaining does not exist in the public unions. It's all coercive bargaining - the taxpayers are not represented!
Govstench February 07, 2013 at 01:10 AM
The bigger question I have is why didn't the town go for a stay on the judge's order pending appeal? Why did the union wait so long before going back to the judge to compel the town to go back to the old hours? Now the lawyer Kinder, is sucking up more taxpayer dollars on a fishing trip of appealing this ruling. In the end, the town will lose. You can't pass an ordinance over an existing contract! The courts will always come down on the side of an existing contract!

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