Providence firefighters are planning to picket at the upcoming Mayor’s Conference. This is a fact. Providence firefighters have been without a negotiated contract for the entire 7 ½ years David Cicilline has been the Mayor of Providence. Fact. Mayor Cicilline has been aware of Local 799’s plans to picket at his conference for over a year. Fact. The mayor has refused to sit with the leadership of the union at any time during this entire year. Also a fact.
Unfortunately this is where the facts end concerning the so-called information that is being quoted by many who are in the public eye. These individuals and institutions are expected to speak the truth in order to uphold their obligation to the public. This has not been the case regarding this issue.
Providence Journal’s editorial page states that “…Providence’s firefighters oppose the mayor’s plan to have them pay a bit of their health care costs…”. This is untrue. All of Local 799’s contract proposals over the past few years have included a proposal which includes health care co-shares. This fact is also printed in their own newspaper on a different page!
It has been widely reported that Providence firefighters are unwilling to discuss changes to staffing and pension issues. Not so. The fact is that the union and the city differ on the specific changes to be made, but this is what “negotiations” are supposed to be about.
John DePetro blatantly spews misinformation regarding Providence firefighter’s contract and working conditions on his morning radio show on a daily basis. Just this morning he repeatedly stated that Providence firefighters were offering a 1% - 2% co-share of health coverage in retirement. Not true. The real percentage offered by Local 799 was approximately 12%.
Cicilline has attempted to claim that Providence firefighters are the highest compensated firefighters in the country. False. In fact, Providence firefighters are not even the highest compensated firefighters in the state.
Cicilline has claimed that his proposals regarding staffing concessions will not affect the safety of the citizens of Providence. The fact is that he proposes to take 9 firefighters per shift off the trucks, allowing all fire apparatus in the city to fall below the NFPA standard – for a start. How can that not have an effect on public safety?
Cicilline portrays Providence firefighters as “holding the citizens of Providence hostage” and of being “extortionists”. How absurd. In fact Providence firefighters have a history of offering one-time pay freezes and a one-time giveback of a vacation week due to the City’s poor financial status – and that was before he took office when it wasn’t the norm for employees to do so.
Firefighters can’t be expected to make any one-time concessions at the present time because they’re currently working on an arbitrated contract which is over 4 years behind already.
Providence firefighters are ready and willing to be part of the solution to our present situation. We only wish (and would expect) to be held accountable for our proposals; for the facts. We can’t defend ourselves against intentional(?) misinformation and lies being spread about us. I can’t tell you how many times over the past few days that strangers and acquaintances have told me how unreasonable my union is being on this issue only to completely change their opinion after I present them with the real facts.
This is all we are expecting – let us be judged on the facts.