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Town to Seek Appeal of Judge's Decision on Firefighters' Schedule

A decision that would return NK's firefighters to their former work schedules is being challenged by town officials.

 

Town officials plan to appeal a decision made by a Superior Court judge that would return North Kingstown firefighters to their former work schedules. According to Town Manager Michael Embury, the town plans to seek of stay for implementation of the order in Supreme Court and then file an appeal. On Wednesday, the town's request for a stay was denied by Superior Court Judge Brian Stern.

Earlier this week, . According to North Kingstown Fire Union President Ray Furtado, both sides are expected to appear in Rhode Island Supreme Court Thursday afternoon for a conference. There, a Supreme Court judge will decide whether or not to grant or deny the request for a stay.

If the request is denied, firefighters will return to their old work schedules Monday morning at 12:01 a.m. Since March 2012, NK's firefighters have been working 24-hour shifts following the passage of a new ordinance by the North Kingstown Town Council in January 2012. The ordinance mandated 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.

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 Furtado, these changes have put a burden on the town's firefighters, forcing some to work double shifts due to understaffing. Furtado added that, since the ordinance's implementation back in March 2012, the town is now on the hook for approximately $1.4 million in backpay. 

Following Stern's order to "unring the bell," both sides returned to the bargaining table to renegotiate. . 

I'm Tired of the Games February 07, 2013 at 01:54 PM
Friday's storm isn't the only big blow heading for North Kingstown. The fact that the NKTC walked away from a deal that was going to save taxpayers big money for the illegal actions will be part of a storm this afternoon filled with high volumes of hot air from Kinder. Hopefully, the TC will present the Justices with hip boots and foul weather gear before the presentation begins for the Town.
NK_Voter February 07, 2013 at 02:29 PM
Go Town Council! If RI Towns and Cities ELECTED officials can't determine what and how their communities can afford to pay for public services, then we have lost yet another piece of our essential freedoms.
CONCERNED AND OVER TAXED CITIZEN February 07, 2013 at 03:27 PM
The fire dept has the hip boots and hand out the sob stories. With the old shift the firemen ate up all the overtime and double shifts they could get their hands on. And never complained. The only profession I know of where you get paid to go to work and sleep. That is so you can be rested for your FULL TIME side jobs such as electricians, carpenters, etc. The sleep quarters were intended for the VOLUNTEER firemen to rest for their private jobs. We do have volunteer departments that work, South Kingston being one of them. Sounds like a plan. Concerned and discusted taxpayer
I'm Tired of the Games February 07, 2013 at 04:22 PM
NK Voter and Concerned... You both forget the part that the Town Council knowingly is violating state law. The deal the TC rejected last Saturday would have settled the back pay owed issue for pennies on the dollar. Now look at what taxpayers are facing. Supplemental tax bills to offset their illegal gamble while Dolan and company chest-thump at their defiance of the law.
Jon Bertram February 07, 2013 at 04:32 PM
Yes. I am a lawyer who lives in nk and not a fireman. These contracts are crazy and wrong but what you need to do is negotiate new ones. Not unilaterally change them. Then if the fire fighters do not want the deal offer the positions on the own market. Don't worry. There are applicants out there. What was done here by the town looks moronic. Just take the high road and do not offer so much next time.
LiveLaughLove February 07, 2013 at 04:42 PM
I lived in volunteer town. Our neighbor had a chimney fire. The FD responded with one truck, one FF, who sat in the truck waiting for someone else to show up. Meanwhile another neighbor, who happened to be an NK FF, walked into the house and put out the fire singlehandedly--after attempting to get help from the volunteer who refused to get out of the truck until help arrived. Sorry, I know where I would want to live.
I'm Tired of the Games February 07, 2013 at 04:56 PM
Jon: You are absolutely correct with the exception of one thing. RI has binding arbitration for Police and Fire in exchange for no strikes. NK chose to pay overtime in lieu of hiring replacements for those who retired, went to other depts. before all this started. This was the TC quick fix after losing this in arbitration previously. If they really wanted 24 hr shifts like many places around the country, they needed 4 platoons. At present, they may not have enough bodies to man 3 platoons thus even more overtime.
CONCERNED AND OVER TAXED CITIZEN February 07, 2013 at 05:15 PM
Concerned and tired of paying high taxes taxpayer. We have one of the highest paid fire dept in the country, almost double. No arguing there is a major problem with the pay package. Its a PUBLIC UNION with NO COMPETITION. I have proudly belonged to a PRIVATE UNION for 40 years. I firmly believe that collective bargaining is the best way to distribute services in a free market. Key words – Free Market. The public sector is not a free market. The public sector is a Government monopoly in which a Government agency or Government corportation is the sole provider of a particular good or service and competition is prevented by law. It is a monopoly created by the Government. There is no competition. The customer has no choice or alternative. There cannot be legitimate collective bargaining negotiations without the free customer being able to say no. If we cannot eliminate these PUBLIC UNION monopolies, we should require that they provide MAXIMUM value to the taxpayer equal to the PRIVATE sector at minimum cost. If the PUBLIC UNIONS are not happy with the sacrifices and concessions that must be made, I invite them to join us in the PRIVATE UNION sector.
Rhodeyresident0303 February 07, 2013 at 05:23 PM
Hahahahahha one of the highest paid fire department in the country ???? WHERE ARE YOUR NUMBERS or FACTS??????? North Kingstown is one of the lowest paid fire departments in the state of Rhode Island if not New England !!! Starting pay is 15 dollars an hour !!!!!! Privates in warwick and Cranston are making 30+ dollars an hour !!!! Sort of why North Kingstown lost 3 brand new recruits to warwick and 2 applicants who didn't even start turned down the job and went to Cranston !!!!! The town went through 75 applicants to hire 3 guys ... And get this 2 of those new guys are on other lists !!!!!! The pay is crap the town treats the department like crap and now there will be a shit storm coming !!!!
Rhodeyresident0303 February 07, 2013 at 05:42 PM
Pay for privates in north Kingstown = $46,671 Pay for privates in warwick= 63,636 Pay for privates in central falls= 50,000 Highest paid in the state ? Google "rhode island municipal fire contracts" and click on the link then go to each town and look at the contracts in the column for each town.. In those contracts is the pay... Once you do your homework then comment... North Kingstown is one of the 3 lowest paid departments in the state. Due to the town not hiring and having over 17 vacancies they chose to fill those spots with overtime. When they did try to hire all of the new guys left due to either the pay or the current situation with the town.
Rhodeyresident0303 February 07, 2013 at 05:45 PM
So when you say "if you don't like the job leave because people will gladly take your job" your wrong.. The town had a written test in 2011 they had about 100 applicants... Out of all of those applicants they only had 3 stay .. They exhausted the whole list... Nobody took the job !!!! So what does that say ?
I'm Tired of the Games February 07, 2013 at 05:48 PM
Boy, will Concerned be upset when he finds out how much his elected officials cost him from walking away from the negotiated settlement. That was a bargain for taxpayers considering the hole the TC & Kinder have dug for them. They took a calculated gamble breaking state law, are all in (with taxpayers money), and are going to come up empty. A sad state of affairs. Considering what the Town owes retroactively, the agreement was a great deal. Very generous of the firefighters who also are taxpayers and have been abused by their employer.
I'm Tired of the Games February 07, 2013 at 05:52 PM
Management and politicians love to pay overtime rather than hire. It is cheaper and gives them propaganda to beat up their employees with when it comes time for budgets and negotiations. Management costs are lower, plain and simple.
Just the Facts February 07, 2013 at 05:54 PM
It has been, and now will always be nothing but a stepping stone dept. Even if by some miracle the Town wins this impossible fight. Who in their right mind would want to apply here? Seriously! If you could go somewhere else and be paid/treated w respect, wouldn't you? I feel for the members who have too much time devoted to a Town who treats them like slaves rather than dedicated employees to even think about moving on to another dept or profession.
Just the Facts February 07, 2013 at 06:07 PM
"Concerned" is actually right about one thing. On average, the Northeast has higher pais FF's as compared to the rest of the country. What he has left out is the fact that most of the Northeast has "combination" depts. Which for the uneducated like "Concerned", that means you get Fire as well as EMS services from the same people. We have all heard of "2 for 1". Thats what you get, two services for one price. Before somebody jumps on the fact, "you're still the highest paid in the country". Please total what the rest of the country pays for BOTH Fire/EMS. You'll find what services you get here are a bargain compared to the rest of the contry. We have the fastest responce times as well as transport times for EMS. Not to mention if NK is the lowest paid in the State, NOBODY should be complaining about what services they get from NKFD for thier tax dollar. That tells me the Town is sqandering tax money somewhere it shouldn't be!!
Concerned Resident February 07, 2013 at 06:16 PM
Can't you just picture-hear Rod Serling saying "welcome to the NKFF twilight zone"....... Concerned - appreciate and looking forward to your real world comments. The only thing acceptable to public union employees is what they expect and demand figuring that there is always more money by raising taxes. Wonder why they don't mention anything about increased taxes?? Lies and deceit is the name of their game. Take JB, the attorney that lives in NK without an address. How about Rhodeyres, the same that swears he's not affiliated with NKFF's when he actually is. I've been tempted to blow his cover but in the end I refuse to stoop to his level. We could also talk about the distortion of NKFF facts but in the end they will compound their lies. Unlike you, of special note is their refusal to face facts, reality, the truth and the real world.
Dark star February 07, 2013 at 06:44 PM
http://www.payscale.com/research/US/Job=Fire_Fighter/Salary NK is just a bit above the national average pay for firefighters. Thanks TC for doing your best to hold costs down.
Just the Facts February 07, 2013 at 07:21 PM
Hey genius! Did you actually read that link?? The "Fire Fighter they speak of is actaully a "Fireman" for industry. Which means he maintains the boiler system in a building, ship, etc... What an idiot!!
NK_Voter February 07, 2013 at 07:27 PM
Tired--once again, you are wrong. Do you not understand that going through the appeal process is the law? If the RISC finds against the NKTC and the town then does not act as directed, only THEN will they be acting against the law. And let's get back too the real issue. Does the town not have the RIGHT to determine the type of service that it can afford? That it wants? Or does a politically connected organization in the most corrupt state in the USA get to tell a town what they will do and how much they have to pay?
Dark star February 07, 2013 at 07:34 PM
Hey Einstein...go to the link. click on "by state or province" then if you really want to, click on "by certification". You obviously are a state employee because you want everybody else to do the work for you.
I'm Tired of the Games February 07, 2013 at 08:03 PM
NK_Voter: Your logic on when you commit an illegal act is flawed. If you violate the law, they lock you up unless you make bail. There are plenty of felons sitting in jail waiting on appeals.... As to the real issue? The Town gets their rights from the State under the RI Constitution. Thus, they must follow the laws of the State. Yes, the Town does have the right to determine what kind of services it wants, but must do so within the framework of the laws of the State. What if the Town Council decides it wants to change which side of the road people drive on or if they decide to shoot down any aircraft going into TF Green? Under your logic they can do so legally unless the RISC finds them guilty.
Concerned Resident February 07, 2013 at 08:09 PM
As town officials continue to look at a volunteer FD, your comments show the reality of the situation reinforcing the town's position, direction and goals.
LiveLaughLove February 07, 2013 at 11:28 PM
This would be more accurate. It is Firefighter EMT, which is required of all the firefighters in North Kingstown. The average salary in the US is $66,000. http://www.indeed.com/salary?q1=Firefighter+EMT&l1=
I'm Tired of the Games February 07, 2013 at 11:46 PM
The conference SC Justice (Gil Indeglia) ordered a stay late this afternoon until the full Supreme Court can hear the arguments. So the meter keeps running for more money to come out of taxpayers pockets and slide into Kinder's.
CONCERNED AND OVER TAXED CITIZEN February 08, 2013 at 01:03 PM
Rhodeyresident We ARE one of the highest costs fire dept states in the country. Almost double from the lowest. You miss the whole point when you expose Cranstons upside down pay scales. It just means their city will reach bankruptcy before we do. Comparisons to other overpaid does not compute. Concerned and overtaxed citizen
CONCERNED AND OVER TAXED CITIZEN February 08, 2013 at 01:07 PM
Rhoderesident Argue all you want but hmm, Central Falls higher than Warwick? Do you understand the word BANKRUPTCY? Their municipal pensions have been cut in half. If thats what you want in NK keep asking for the moon.
CONCERNED AND OVER TAXED CITIZEN February 08, 2013 at 01:14 PM
im tired of the games We all know the "LAWS" were put in effect by the legislators who are influenced by the FF LOBBYIST at the state house. Now lets tell the truth.
I'm Tired of the Games February 08, 2013 at 01:55 PM
CONCERNED AND OVER TAXED CITIZEN: The Laws are still the laws. I think you overestimate the impact of the "FF Lobyist". Most of the laws regarding the FF Arbitration Act date back to the late 1960's or early 70's. Lobbyists do not appoint judges and appointments to the State Labor Board, but enforce the laws. Every now and then people like the NKTC think they are above any law they disagree with and go rogue. We will see was the SC does and how deep you will have to dig into your wallet after. The TC missed a great opportunity to get out of this last week. Stay safe this weekend. I imagine there will be more talk about National Grid than firefighters and public works for road clearing.
NK_Voter February 08, 2013 at 04:20 PM
By your flawed, and frankly self-serving "logic", the TC should be either in jail or have made bail. Neither has occurred--and the RISC just issued a stay--would they do that for "lawbreakers?" No--so they must not be breaking the law... Again, wrong on the real issue. The real issue is interpretation of the law. Thus the involvement of the courts. In the end, the FF's union may win in the SC, though they also may not--Judge Stearn's decision was flawed. But if the unions do win and continue to tell tell towns and cities what they must be paid and how much they should work, we'll continue down the road to higher taxes, poor services, and middle class flight until we face that final hurdle, bankruptcy--then who will pay that generous pension? Look up "Pyrrhic victory" my friend. Then look up "perception bias."
I'm Tired of the Games February 08, 2013 at 05:03 PM
NK_Voter: Yes, everyone has the right to appeal. Heck, even Craig Price has that right. Your statements are sounding like you are becoming resigned to the fact that the TC violated the law. Taxpayers are on the hook either way. Too bad the TC which was elected can't follow the law and thus cost taxpayers money.

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