NORTH KINGSTOWN—On Tuesday, representatives for both the town and North Kingstown Firefighters Association (NKFFA) Local 1651 met for their first arbitration hearing, a decision stipulated in Superior Court Judge Brian Stern’s June 22 ruling for interest arbitration.
The town council had appealed to the Supreme Court for a stay of Stern’s decision, but were rejected this past Monday, and thus the arbitration hearing could commence.
According to NKFFA President Ray Furtado, the town council attempted to stop the arbitration hearing as well, but was denied by the independent arbitration panel.
“The town launched an appeal to the arbitrator to stop the process, and they were unsuccessful,” said Furtado. “It is pretty telling, and it seems they feel they are vulnerable in these proceedings since they have tried to stop the process in numerous venues and have been unsuccessful.”
Per Stern’s decision, the interest arbitration panel is composed of one representative for the NKFFA, Joe Andreoli of the state firefighters’ union, the town’s attorney Dan Kinder, and a neutral arbitrator.
“Both sides will present testimony and exhibits, and [the panel] will decide what the terms of the contract are for that year should be,” Furtado said after Stern’s June 22 decision. “When we did this in 2010-11, the town lost there, [the panel stating] that the town’s financial status didn’t dictate they should have [a stay].”
“Once all the evidence is in, we will finally get in front of a neutral arbitrator and bring to light everything the town has done to this point,” he added. “This gives us an opportunity to discuss the numerous safety issues with the shifting that they’ve implemented.”
For the rest of this story and more local news, pick up the July 4 issue of the Standard Times.