North Kingstown, RI – The Town of North Kingstown, responding to an administrative order signed October 1 by Presiding Justice Alice B. Gibney, filed a motion for recusal of Judge Brian P. Stern whose prior “Unring the Bell” order found favorably for its firefighters union, NKFFA (IAFF) Local 1651. The ongoing dispute between Town and firefighters resulted from the Town’s unilateral implementation of departmental changes in March 2012, outside the boundaries of collective bargaining.
Assignment of cases to a single justice
The administrative order said in part, “The above causes of action are assigned to the Honorable Brian P. Stern for the purpose of not only presiding over the trials of said cases, but of managing, supervising, scheduling and disposing of any and all pending motions and future motions pertaining to such cases, as well as any other ancillary matters pertaining to the same.”
Upon the administrative order’s effect, Stern brought all parties together, assigning briefing schedules and oral arguments on a petition filed by the State Labor Relations Board (SLRB) last Monday to enforce the board’s recent order – immediately restoring the fire department to its previously 4 platoon structure, wage and shift schedules.
Town alleges bias
The Town’s Motion to Recuse alleges bias on the part of Stern who ruled in favor of the Union in a parallel action.
“…it is clear that Judge Brian P. Stern has pre-judged most of the issues in the ULP-6088 cases. The Labor Board’s decision and order is relying on Judge Stern’s prior decision – which the Rhode Island Supreme Court has stayed- in support of its decision in these matters.”
The parties are due in Stern’s courtroom at 11:00 am on Monday morning in Kent County Superior Court.