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After attempting to bargain in good faith with the town of North Kingstown, the North Kingstown Firefighters were forced to file for arbitration for the contract year of July 1, 2010 to June 30, 2011.  One of the major points of disagreement was a proposed shift change forcing the firefighters into a average 56 hour work week schedule.  This work week, consisting of 24 hour shifts was immediately seen as unsafe and unacceptable by the members of the North Kingstown Fire Department. 
JULY  2011 
North Kingstown's proposal of a 3 platoon/56 hour work week was not awarded by the Arbitration panel.  The panel noted that the changes were too "drastic" and the town's financial situation did not mandate such a drastic change. 

AUGUST  2011 
After not being awarded the above mentioned proposal through the arbitration process, the the North Kingstown Town Council took another radical action, attempting to circumnavigate state law and ignore their obligation to collectively bargain. Their proposed ordinance removed one (1) entire platoon of working firefighters from the department's structure while forcing the remaining three (3) platoon's (shifts) to carry the workload while also drastically reducing firefighter salaries in the process.  This maneuver effected the working hours, salary, and conditions of employment.  The North Kingstown Firefighters posted the following statement on NKFFA.org: The North Kingstown Fire Fighters are in the process of fending off an attack on their work schedule by the North Kingstown Town Council. Having lost the issue in the recent contract arbitration, the Council has moved forward with a unilateral decision to significantly increase the hours worked by NK firefighters, absent negotiation or compensation for those hours.  The NKFFA is determined to oppose this initiative at all costs, as it profoundly and adversely impacts all aspects of our existence as proud firefighters in this community.  The family, safety, and financial ramifications of this action are monumental, and for those reasons, the NKFFA is prepared to vigorously challenge this action.  It threatens our very existence, as well as our ability to safely provide quality services to our residents. Raymond Furtado,President, NKFFA IAFF Local 1651

On December 19, 2011 the Town Council drafted ordinance 14-26 "Organization of the Fire Department".  The original ordinance and a link to the "First Reading" meeting have been posted below: 

JANUARY  2012 

On January 30, 2012 the Town Council had a "Second Reading"  on drafted ordinance 14-26 with significant changes not found in their original "First Reading".  Several taxpayers and firefighters gave public comment with 100% disapproval of the ordinance.  The Town Council then voted in a 3 to 2 decision to adopt their ordinance.  Elizabeth Dolan (R), Charles Stamm (R), and Carol Hueston (R) all voted in favor of adopting 14-26. Charles Brennan (I) and Michael Bestwick (D) voted against adopting 14-26.  Absent was any public input from the town's attorneys, or Fire Chief Fenwick Gardiner Jr.  The ordinance as it stands today and the meeting have been posted below:

  • Video clips of public comment and the Town Council's vote can be viewed from our Facebook page.
The North Kingstown Firefighters seek restraining order to stop the North Kingstown Town Council from enacting ordinance 14-26.  The North Kingstown Firefighters file for this restraining order in the Washington County Court system. Superior Court Judge Brian Stern denies the restraining order, however urges both sides to continue to work together to come up with a resolution. Judge Stern also appoints Bryant University Professor Bruce Kogan to mediate discussions to help ward off the town's ordinance.  The North Kingstown Town Council refuses to continue discussions and within 48 hours of the Judge's request, and before mediation takes place, the town forces it's firefighters into the new work schedule. The North Kingstown Town Council attempts to immediately defend their decision with an open letter to local papers:
MARCH 2012 
During a preliminary budget meeting on March 19, 2012 North Kingstown Finance Director Patricia Sunderland informs the town council that up to an additional $410,000 would be needed for the fire department's budget due to their ordinance implementation of the three (3) platoon/ 56 hour work week system. This is in stark comparison to their projected $1.5 million dollars in savings they predicted.  

On March 27, 2012 the Town Of North Kingstown files suit against it's firefighters: Town Complaint
On March 28, 2012 the North Kingstown Firefighters file suit against the town: Union Complaint

APRIL 2012 
MAY 2012 
Judge Stern Rules on the suit filed by the North Kingstown Firefighters against the North Kingstown Town Council.  The ruling concludes “….this Court declares that the Ordinance is invalid because it was passed in violation of the Town Charter. Moreover, this Court declares that the Ordinance is invalid because it conflicts with the FFAA by imposing changes to wages, hours, and terms and conditions of employment without first bargaining to agreement or following the FFAA’s statutory arbitration procedures” (pg. 36).   

JULY 2012 
On July 16, 2012 NKFFA President Raymond Furtado addresses the town council on the current conditions of the fire department's members as they (the town council and town manager) continue to force the invalid work schedule.

On July 18, 2012 the North Kingstown Town Council attempted to obtain a T.R.O. (temporary restraining order) against the North Kingstown Firefighters in regards to 19 grievances that were filed by the NKFFA that were directly related to the invalid ordinance and forced work schedule. The town brought this issue back to Judge Stern, which was immediately dismissed from his courtroom.

Michael Embury
NK Town Manager

15 Polo Drive
North Kingstown, RI 02852


Elizabeth Dolan
Town Council President

145 Cassandra Lane
North Kingstown, RI 02852


Carol Hueston
Town Council Member

58 Deerfield Court
North Kingstown, RI 02852


Charles Stamm
Town Council Member

85 Pleasant Street
North Kingstown, RI 02852


AUGUST 2012 
North Kingstown Firefighters hire East Greenwich based PR Firm "Checkmate" to help educate the citizens of North Kingstown about the current, unsafe working conditions created by the North Kingstown town council and town manager.  

On August 2, 2012 the RI Labor relations board (in which NKTC President Liz Dolan is a member of) meet in executive session to discuss ULP (Unfair Labor Practice 6088- North Kingstown Firefighters vs Town of North Kingstown).  A second formal complaint has been issued with 2 hearings scheduled in September.  

PDF File: Formal Complaint issued by RI State Labor Board against Town of North Kingstown.