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Providence Argues Firefighters Can't Use Arbitration to Fight Platoon Change

Published
The City of Providence is arguing that the Providence firefighters' union can't use arbitration to fight the looming implementation of a money-saving...

The City of Providence is arguing that the Providence firefighters' union can't use arbitration to fight the looming implementation of a money-saving shift-change plan 

because, the city contends, firefighters' current contract contract is "void and unenforceable."

In a document filed in Superior Court, the city argues the contract doesn't hold up since it covers a six-year period, and how according to state law, a "firefighter contract may not extend beyond years."

The contract in question was approved by the City Council and then-Mayor Angel Taveras in 2011.

Mayor Jorge Elorza announced plans in May to change Fire Department staffing from four shifts a day to three. He said the move was necessary to cut millions of dollars in annual overtime spending.

Elorza delayed implementation of the shift-change plan; it's now scheduled to go into effect on Sunday.

Meanwhile, the International Association of Firefighters, Local 799, went to court to try to block the platoon change. Firefighters argue shifts are a condition of employment and therefore subject to negotiation.

The city and Local 799 are due back in Superior Court Monday.

Taveras, now a lawyer in Boston, and Local 799 president Paul Doughty didn't immediately respond to requests for comment.

Word of the city's latest legal argument was first reported by WPRI.com.

The city's contention that the firefighters' contract is void could raise questions about a pension settlement struck by the Taveras administration.

Elorza spokesman Evan England said the city solicitor's office "is of the opinion that the consent decree remains valid and in full force and effect."

Providence Argues Firefighters Can't Use Arbitration to Fight Platoon Change
Providence Argues Firefighters Can't Use Arbitration to Fight Platoon Change