Valley Breeze

The Valley Breeze Woonsocket North Smithfield 04-18-2019

The Valley Breeze Newspapers serving the Northern Rhode Island towns of Cumberland, Lincoln, Woonsocket, Smithfield, North Smithfield, Pawtucket, North Providence, Scituate, Foster, and Glocester

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2 WOONSOCKET APRIL 18-24, 2019 | VALLEY BREEZE | NORTH SMITHFIELD BLACKSTONE WOONSOCKET EDITION WOONSOCKET – Two bills making their way through the General Assembly that would mandate a 42-hour average work week for firefighters drew a sharp response this week from city offi- cials who say the legislation would take away the city's ability to handle its own negotiations with unions. During a City Council meet- ing Monday, Councilor James Cournoyer criticized the city's House delegation, including Rep. Michael Morin, Rep. Stephen Casey and Rep. Robert Phillips, for voting in favor of the bills during a vote on April 9. The bills, he argued, would take away the city's rights to man- age its own contracts, effectively tying the hands of local officials. "I think their actions were wrong on so many levels. I like all these people individually, they're good folks, but I don't think they served the city last week," he said. The bills, which passed the House by a 62-9 vote, would require cities and towns to pay overtime to fire- fighters working beyond 42 hours in an average week. Federal law cur- rently requires overtime pay to fire- fighters working beyond 53 hours per week. The bills are supported by local firefighter union, which argues that the change pro- motes fairness in pay. While the bills would not imme- diately impact Woonsocket, which currently uses a 42-hour average work week sched- ule, councilors argued the legisla- tion could restrict negotiations on future contracts and prevent the city from moving from a four to a three- platoon system in the future. "It is not affected by the new law, but the new law makes negotiating for a three platoon system unafford- able, and therefore out of the ques- tion in negotiations," said Councilor John Ward. Morin defended the legislation, telling The Valley Breeze this week the bills were about creating open and honest negotiations that protect employees. "Forcing people to work 56 hours a week is not open and honest negotiations," he said. "The employ- ees of the city of Woonsocket are some of the lowest paid by compari- son to every other city and town. It's not always the employee's fault in the city." Morin, a former Woonsocket firefighter of 31 years and former president of Woonsocket Firefighters Local 732, said he did not believe the legislation took sway the city's ability to negotiate contracts and contracts must be negotiated in good faith. "That's absolutely false. They're put- ting out misinfor- mation to the people," he said regarding councilors' comments. "It's almost like they're distracting the people from their inability to govern." Mayor Lisa Baldelli-Hunt also criticized the legislation, telling The Breeze she believes union negotia- tions belong between the union and municipality and these bills take that away from the city. "I was disappointed that our legis- lators supported that. It really goes deeper than I think what meets the eye," she said. The two bills, one of which removes the exemption for fire- fighters in state overtime law and the other requiring overtime after 42 hours in an average week, now move to the Senate for consider- ation. Gov. Gina Raimondo has not said whether she'd sign the bills if they came to her desk, saying she'd confer with municipal leaders on the issue. City officials blast state reps on firefighter overtime legislation By LAUREN CLEM Valley Breeze Staff Writer MORIN BALDELLI- HUNT GREAT VALUE QUALITY SERVICE 36 BLACKSTONE STREET WOONSOCKET 401-766-3270 WWW.TERRYAUTOLTD.COM Gil & Meika 2011 HYUNDAI SONATA, HYBRID Loaded 70K miles ............................ $ 9,495 2011 NISSAN FRONTIER 4X4 Automatic! 108K miles ................ $ 11,519 2008 TOYOTA RAV 4 FWD, Loaded 80K miles ............................ $ 8,495 Now Offering On-Site Bank Financing Westlake Financial WE BUY CARS

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