Return to Regular Schedule on Sunday
North Kingstown – The North Kingstown Firefighters’ Union, International Association of Firefighters (IAFF) Local 1651 plans to return its members to their regular schedule and platoon structure on Sunday morning.
The decision comes as a result of an order handed down by the State Labor Relations Board (SLRB) on Friday afternoon as a result of the Town bargaining in bad faith and its implementation of unilateral changes to department platoon structure, wages, and hours of work.
“We fully intend to be present to comply with the Labor Board’s decision in returning to a 4-platoon system on Sunday,” said Raymond Furtado, Union President.
The Union and Town have been in a ping pong battle of wits over the switchback since Friday’s decision ordering the town to immediately restore the firefighter’s schedule, hours of work and hourly rate of pay to that which existed upon the expiration of the 2010-2011 contract year.
Town manager, Michael Embury, in response to the Union’s press release on Friday, sent memorandum dated September 28 to Furtado, stating the town’s intention to appeal the SLRB decision and to maintain the 3-platoon system as unilaterally implemented in March 2012, pending appeal.
Embury’s correspondence further implied that the Town was unable to file an appeal on Friday as the State Labor Relations Board “waited to render their decision at a time and date when the court was unavailable.”
Town Council President, Elizabeth Dolan, who has never waivered in her opinion that the Town was justified in exercising its managerial rights over the firefighters, said that legal counsel was ready to file a motion to stay the entire remedial order on Monday.
“We fully anticipated this decision from the Labor Board. It comes as no surprise, whatsoever,” said Dolan.
Dolan who also sits as a member of the Labor Board recused herself from Board hearings regarding issues surrounding the town’s unilateral actions in which she participated.
Early Saturday evening, Furtado fired off a letter to Embury stating the Union’s intentions to comply with the SLRB ruling, irregardless of any intentions of the Town to file another appeal.
“The Town had released in numerous venues the intention to appeal the decision of the RISLRB before the final decision had even been completed. However, the intentions of the Town are not germane to the implementation of the order of the RISLRB,” said Furtado.
Furtado averred that pursuant to Rhode Island Law, any appeal by the Town or request to stay was moot and did not preclude the Union from exercising its right to comply with the RISLRB order.
“Pursuant to RIGL 28-7-30, the implementation of an order by the RISLRB shall not be stayed by judicial proceedings,”
The Union president noted that the firefighters’ return to their normal shifts, to be implemented on Sunday morning, was consistent with the order of the SLRB and that any attempt by the Town to block implementation of the order would be a knowing and willful violation of the law.
Furtado indicated that firefighters would report for duty on Sunday morning to resume their regular schedules under the 4-platoon structure and asked that command staff be instructed to fill any vacancies in staffing accordingly.
Also on Saturday evening, the Town filed notice with the Rhode Island Secretary of State of its intention to hold an emergency meeting at 9:00 am on Monday morning.
The notice, rich in drama, states “Motion to hold an emergency meeting to address an unexpected occurrence that requires immediate action to protect the public.”