NORTH KINGSTOWN—Having heard testimony from legal representatives from both the town and firefighters union, the State Labor Relations Board (SLRB) ruled against North Kingstown in their fight to keep firefighters working under a three-platoon shifting system.
Robyn Golden, Administrator for the SLRB, cautioned, however, that the board’s official decision has yet to be finalized and, as of Wednesday afternoon, the town had not been notified of the decision.
“The preliminary determination was to uphold the complaint,” said Golden. “However, the decision and order has not been written and has not been signed, therefore nothing has been formally determined.”
The North Kingstown Firefighters Association (NKFFA), Local 1651, have had a complaint pending for the past several months, claiming that the town has engaged in ‘unfair labor practices’ in regards to the previous council’s March 6, 2012, resolution that ‘unilaterally changed terms and conditions of employment…without bargaining to impasse and without exhausting all statutory dispute resolution mechanisms under the Firefighters Arbitration Act.’
The SLRB further upheld the unfair labor practices in which the town has engaged ‘have resulted in the denial of the rights of employees as guaranteed them by law and has tended to lead to strife and unrest inimical to the public safety, health and welfare.”
According to NKFFA President Ray Furtado, the board will now draft its decision and conditions of their ruling, although he does not yet have a time frame for its release.
“The SLRB can award whatever remedies they see fit,” said Furtado. “We are seeking our old work schedule and the restoration of our pay scale. Unfortunately, we will have to pursue the damages now, totaling $1.2 million.”
“We will have to see what the wording [of the SLRB is] specifically to see what they do award,” he added. “Hopefully, they will grant them sooner rather than later, since [the shifting system] is clearly an issue of public safety and our safety.”
For the rest of this story and more local news, pick up the August 1 issue of the Standard Times.