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Stay Will Not Be Granted in Rhode Island Firefighter Arbitration

Wednesday, December, 23, 2015

The Rhode Island State Supreme Court recently refused to stop a scheduled arbitration hearing related to a dispute between the firefighters union and the city over workweek and hours. The decision means the arbitration hearing will continue as scheduled and a stay will not be granted.


The city asked for a stay from the Supreme Court because it believed the arbitration hearing was set in error. The city challenged the lower court following authorization of arbitration. The court’s response was void of elaborate details stating only “… after reviewing the memoranda filed in this case and conferring with counsel and conference with the Court, the motion for a stay of the appeal is denied.”


Representatives from the city stated that despite their disappointment, they will be ready for the upcoming hearing. They are also prepared to enforce its right to restructure and better manage the fire department.


Representatives from the Firefighters Union Local 799 could not be reached for comment.


The city and union have been in disagreement for months after the city decided to impose a change in scheduling structure in the department that resulted in a change from a four-platoon to a three-platoon. The change is predicted to save the city as much as $5 million per year, especially because it reduces the average base workweek from 42 to 56 hours.


The union believes that based on its contract, changes like that cannot be made with negotiations. They filed the dispute with the city in hopes of at least insisting they had the power to question the decisions, even if changes are still ultimately made.