Supreme Court Rules in Favor of Providence Fire Fighters
April 4, 2008 – The Rhode Island Supreme Court has denied the City of Providence’s appeal of the 2004-2005 arbitration award granted to Providence, RI Local 799. The city sought to overturn the decision, arguing that Local 799’s arbitrator, Frank Montanaro, failed to disclose his position on the Rhode Island Blue Cross Blue Shield’s board of directors. Additionally, the city argued that the neutral arbitrator, Michael Ryan, failed to follow state statutes in his decision.
“This appeal was a waste of taxpayer dollars and a case of sour grapes,” says Local 799 President Paul Doughty. “This decision, along with the previous five arbitration victories for Providence fire fighters, vindicates our position and demonstrates the reasonableness of our proposals.”
Mayor David Cicilline claims to be fighting for the taxpayers of the City, a fight that continues to cost the City more and more money. The mounting legal bills have climbed to nearly $1 million and the City has yet to win a single victory.
In 2005, the city and Local 799 mutually agreed to an accelerated, consolidated arbitration process, specifically naming Michael Ryan as the neutral arbitrator for contract years 2001-2002, 2002-2003, 2003-2004, 2004-2005, 2005-2006 and 2006-2007. The 2005-2007 arbitration process is ongoing.
“It speaks volumes that the mayor would agree to a process, agree to a neutral arbitrator, then complain about the process and the neutral arbitrator when the decision doesn’t go his way,” says Doughty. “His actions really highlight the difficulty we’ve experienced trying to reach a resolution on the many issues facing the City and Providence fire fighters. Instead of placing blame elsewhere, the mayor should see this as an opportunity to change his direction and improve his leadership of the city.
“It is our hope that the mayor will take a hard look at the
unmitigated failure of his strategy to attack and demonize Providence fire
fighters and re-chart his course so we can move forward on the issues critical
to public safety and to the members of the fire department.”