A Supreme Court judge has granted a temporary stay to North Kingstown town officials regarding a ruling that requires them to return firefighters to their former work schedules, according to Town Manager Michael Embury.
Supreme Court Judge Gilbert Indeglia has issued a stay of implementation, but only for a few days until the entire Rhode Island Supreme Court can meet and vote on the matter. In the interim, Judge Indeglia has urged town officials and the fire union (Local 1651) to work to resolve the issue.
According to Town Manager Michael Embury, the town is seeking to appeal a Superior Court judge's decision on the matter. If both sides don't reach an agreement by end of day Wednesday, the entire Supreme Court will consider the issue on Thursday.
Earlier this week, Superior Court Judge Brian Stern ruled against the town and ordered them to overturn an ordinance that mandated 24-hour shifts for firefighters, citing that the North Kingstown Town Council did not have the right to make those unilateral changes to the fire department after losing the issue in arbitration a year before. Judge Stern gave the town until Feb. 11 to revert back to the former schedule.
In January 2012, the council approved an ordinance that 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.