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SEPTEMBER 27, 2013

NK Firefighters To Receive $2.5 million in Back Wages Due To Town Council’s Unlawful Behavior

The Rhode Island State Labor Relations Board found today that the Town of North Kingstown engaged in deliberate and unlawful behavior when, on March 11, 2012, it unilaterally reduced firefighters’ wages, increased their hours of work, and changed other terms and conditions of their employment. The Board ordered the Town to immediately cease and desist from its illegal conduct and revert back to the schedule and wage rates that existed prior to the Town’s unilateral change. The Board further ordered the Town to reimburse firefighters for all wages lost as a result of the Town’s actions, including interest at a rate of 12% per year, within sixty days. According to Union President Raymond Furtado, these damages will easily be in excess of $2.5 million. “Clearly, this is a resounding victory for the Union and the community at large. The current shift schedules create unnecessary risks to both firefighters and residents, and we are thrilled to be returning to our previous, safer work schedule.”

The Decision provides, “[i]n crafting our remedies, we recognize that we cannot give back to the firefighters the time that they have missed with their families or undo the stress that they have endured. We wish there was more we could have done about that and that we could have concluded these hearings far sooner that we did.”

“The remedy is designed to serve as a warning to [the Town of North Kingstown] and all other Employers that the imposition of unilateral terms of conditions of employment is not justified, when there exists a mandatory statutory resolution for bargaining disputes.”

Firefighters expect to return to their previous terms and conditions of employment within the next forty-eight hours.