Letter to the Editor: I’ll Get You My Pretty … and Your 6 Lateral Transfers Too

It sure feels like Ms. Corrigan is trying to get rid of the six lateral transfers hired by the fire department in 2016, one way or another.

Ms. Corrigan is now using a 3-platoon, 56-hour work-week system as a way to get rid of the six firefighters.

Let’s look at the history of her actions:

It just so happens that she is trying to remove the same six firefighters that she complained about while testifying in the James Perry case.

Ms. Corrigan said she felt a lateral hiring process was “discriminatory” because “generally the number of firefighters that are currently employed are predominately white males” and that the CBA, charter language, the active hiring list were all “thrown away” in the lateral hiring process used. Ms. Corrigan testified that she “took it very seriously and spent a lot of time and energy trying to understand what had happened, how the laterals had come in, how the whole CBA had been — it was almost like a tip of the iceberg is this firing” and why she thought “relying on solely lateral hires is a bad idea” and “not a best practice in employment.”

When questioned further and asked about being discriminatory and if that bothered her, Ms. Corrigan replied, “It’s a fact, it’s a discriminatory practice. As you know, with employment law, there’s a lot, EEOC [Equal Employment Opportunity Commission], the Town has an affirmative action program, all of these things when you are hiring laterals, it’s a fact that you are not — you are reducing the subset. It’s a fact. It doesn’t bother me. It’s a fact you are reducing the people that can apply.”

Perhaps the tip of the iceberg stopped with Jim Perry because Justice McGuirl ruled, “This Court finds without question based on the credible evidence before it that Corrigan did not engage in ‘careful and factual consideration,’ as required by §45-1 of the CBA before terminating FF Perry for ‘just cause.'”

And, “There was no valid basis to terminate FF Perry.”

Gall-lee said Gomer Pyke, I’m sure glad Ms. Corrigan didn’t reduce the subset and followed employment law, the EEOC and the Town’s affirmative action program when hiring Ms. Dykeman and Ms. Antunes.

Also noted in the decision of that case is where the judge wrote, “Corrigan stated that her analysis revealed a structural deficit and, in her professional opinion, the lateral transfer procedures were a major contributing factor.” The only other familiar statement from Ms. Corrigan that appears to be missing was about that being “unsustainable” as well.

OK. That didn’t work, let’s try this . . . .

Ms. Corrigan now comes along with a plan to have the firefighters work more hours per week on average (56 rather than 42), while saying it is being done “due to the recognized fiscal and, more importantly, health, safety and wellness concerns from such extensive overtime hours.” So I guess if a firefighter has a bad night and works the 24-hour shift continuously and then has to work overtime, that is now somehow safer than a firefighter who works a 10 or 14 hour shift and has to work overtime.

Ms. Corrigan recognizes the changes as structural changes that will take legal opinions and potentially additional complaints for summary judgement, i.e. a softer way of saying additional lawsuits. Apparently, we haven’t spent enough yet on legal fees.

Ms. Corrigan said she will supply the council with her progress reports at the meeting on June 11. So much for the town manager search, maybe Santa will bring us a new one.

– William Higgins

William Higgins, retired EG police officer and former EMA director for the town, lives in East Greenwich.

4 Replies to “Letter to the Editor: I’ll Get You My Pretty … and Your 6 Lateral Transfers Too”

  1. We keep ignoring the real issue here – the FF are on track to have us over a million in unbudgeted/unplanned overtime costs with the existing structure. The removal of the floaters is crushing us tax payers. Something has got to change. If this gets the budget back under control and there is the data behind it (numerous communities leverage this type system) then let’s do it. If the FF can come back and give us a better deal on the overtime and push to keep things as they are, great. But, we have got to change – we’re taxing regular people and fixed income people out of this town!!!

  2. I think the issue is that we need to determine what safe and effective level of staff is for manning the fire dept for a shift. Now whether those fire fighters work a 4 platoon system or 3 platoon system makes no difference . . . YOU WILL BE PAYING FOR THAT LEVEL OF MANNING. There will still be overtime . . . that is why Providence abandon the idea . . . it was not going to save money.

    Second issue is whether you want to have floaters, floaters cost money in salary, training, equipment, health care and other benefits. What is the total cost per floater. If you don’t have floaters then a vacant spot in manning for a shift will be covered by overtime. What is the cost of overtime compared to the total cost of a floater. How many floaters will you need to make a major dent in overtime costs? What will the total cost of all the floaters be? What will the total be in reduction in overtime costs?

    We are a town that is well positioned financially. The numbers used by the Town Council were flawed . . . they had to amend their position, net increase for Fire Dept. budget is $50,000. Net increase for Legal Fees is over $300,000

    NFPA cites 15 firefighters for initial response, first truck should be on scene with in 4 minutes (for a house fire call). So we need to have 15 firefighters on duty. If you want a float pool then those firefighters would be on duty in addition to the 15, so if everyone shows up to work . . . you will have 16, 17 or 18 all depends on how big the float pool is.

    You want a 3 platoon system you will have to increase the salary of all the firefighters because you are making them work more hours per week. And don’t forget the FLSA rules or you will run into problems with the FEDS, just like the police departments have realized.

    This whole issue is based on completely faulty facts by the TC and Town Manager, politics, and vendettas.

    I guess I would just like to see reporting on the topics above, rather then all this nonsense of the historical past about what did or did not happen with the town taking over from the fire commission. It is what it is . . . move on!

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