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Providence Mayor Jorge Elorza and Local 799, the International Association of Firefighters, are locked in an increasingly bitter dispute about cutting overtime spending in the Fire Department, the latest in a string of conflicts between the union and city leaders. 

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Lawyer, commentator and former attorney general Arlene Violet joins Political Roundtable this week 

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The City of Providence plans to increase firefighters' base pay by eight percent as part of the slated Sunday implementation of a different platoon structure meant to reduce overtime spending by millions of dollars a year.

During a Friday afternoon news conference, Mayor Jorge Elorza said firefighters can get a more generous pay increase -- 33 percent --- if they agree to a plan to increase their average weekly hours, from 42 to 56.

Ian Donnis/File Photo / RIPR

The City of Providence is arguing that the Providence firefighters' union can't use arbitration to fight the looming implementation of a money-saving shift-change plan 

The board of the Coventry Fire District must decide what happens now that residents have voted to dissolve the district. The board meets Monday to discuss the options.

The cash strapped Coventry Fire District is set to run out of money in the coming weeks. Voters rejected a tax increase to raise the $600,000 needed to keep the district afloat. 

Thanks for stopping by. It's been a long week, so let's get rolling before I fall asleep at my standing desk. Your tips and thoughts remain welcome at idonnis (at) ripr (dot) org, and I invite your attention on the twitters. Here we go.

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In a sharp defeat for fire unions, two bills that would strengthen their hand in dealing with cities and towns on overtime spending are dead in the current legislative session, lawmakers and a top fire union official say.

Legislative committee votes on the two high-profile firefighter overtime bills were canceled Thursday, and neither of the bills is expected to get a vote before lawmakers conclude the session.

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Providence Mayor Jorge Elorza on Monday made an urgent plea for lawmakers to reject a bill that would create a 42-hour workweek for firefighters, saying it would drive up overtime costs for cities and towns across Rhode Island. But the head of the city firefighters' union disputes the likely impact, and he blames Elorza for causing the standoff over the legislation.

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Lieutenant Governor Daniel McKee joins Political Roundtable this week to discuss the battle between municipalities and fire unions over platoon structures; the formal launch of Lincoln Chafee's presidential campaign; and the outlook for Governor Raimondo's initiative to pay for infrastructure improvements through new tolls on trucks.

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Municipal officials from around the state are opposing legislation that would make fire department staffing subject to collective bargaining. They say the bill effectively eliminates their power to control the budget.

Mayors and town managers say they should have control over schedules for firefighters, to cut down the cost of overtime. Legislation now pending at the statehouse would require collective bargaining for schedule changes.

The Central Coventry Fire district’s union says it’s still willing to negotiate even though the district has filed for bankruptcy.  

The governor’s office announced Tuesday a chapter 9 bankruptcy after months of receivership.  Head of the firefighters’ union David Gorman says the bankruptcy will hurt the town of Coventry.  “I still maintain that the governor’s bankruptcy plan will jeopardize public safety even further than we’re at today.  We’re down just 31 firefighters from 52,” said Gorman.  He added that the firefighters have also downsized from five stations to two. 

The Central Coventry firefighters union says it was surprised to learn that filing for bankruptcy was on the table. The union’s president said he thought cost cutting negotiations were moving forward.

There’s been little movement on the Central Coventry Fire District’s expected path towards bankruptcy since it was first reported last week, by channel 12.  The union has been in talks with a state receiver for the past several months.  The fire district is more than 3 million dollars in debt according to union president David Gorman. 

Ian Donnis / RIPR

Two days after he announced his gubernatorial campaign, Providence Mayor Angel Taveras collected the endorsement on Wednesday of the Rhode Island State Association of Fire Fighters outside a Cranston fire house.

A spokeswoman for Memorial Hospital said that three first responders were treated there for heat exhaustion after battling a five-alarm fire at a chemical company in Central Falls. Dyana Koelsch said none of those first responders had been admitted to the hospital.

Temperatures crested 90 degrees today, adding to dangerous conditions for firefighters and rescue workers.

The fire started today in an old mill building, most likely during a mixing process that involved toxic chemicals.

(PROVIDENCE, RI) Providence firefighters vote Wednesday on a revised deal with the city. Paul Doughty, president of the city’s firefighters union, says members are voting on a couple of changes, but the most important one centers on how well their pension is funded. He says right now the pension is about 30 percent funded. Firefighters will vote on a provision requiring the city to pay at least 95 percent of its yearly contribution until the pension is 80 percent funded.