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Doughty v. Elorza

Superior Court of Rhode Island

December 31, 2015

PAUL A. DOUGHTY, individually and as President of LOCAL 799 OF THE INTERNATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF FIREFIGHTERS, A.F.L.-C.I.O., and LOCAL 799 OF THE INTERNATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF FIREFIGHTERS, A.F.L.-C.I.O.
v.
JORGE ELORZA, in his official capacity as Mayor of the City of Providence, THE CITY OF PROVIDENCE, by and through its Treasurer, James J. Lombardi, III, and the PROVIDENCE FIRE DEPARTMENT, through the Providence Commissioner of Public Safety, Steven Pare

Providence County Superior Court

For Plaintiff: Edward C. Roy, Jr., Esq.

For Defendant: Christopher N. Dawson, Esq., Timothy C. Cavazza, Esq. Jeffrey Dana, Esq.

DECISION

LANPHEAR, J.

Before the Court is the Defendants' Motion to Dismiss Plaintiff's Amended Complaint. The Plaintiffs (the Union) filed its original Complaint on June 15, 2015. The Defendants (hereinafter, collectively, the City), moved to dismiss the Union's Amended Complaint of August 26, 2015.

This contentious case was filed after the City announced that it would reduce the number of battalions for the City's firefighters and increase the number of hours that most of the firefighters would serve on duty. The relationship of the parties was already controlled by an active Collective Bargaining Agreement. After extensive argument, this Court issued a Decision on September 10, 2015. This motion to dismiss was filed shortly thereafter.

I

Facts and Travel

In its previous Decision of September 10, 2015, this Court stated:

"Local 799 of the International Association of Firefighters, A.F.L.-C.I.O. (the Union) is the bargaining unit for the firefighters of the City of Providence. In October 2010, it entered into a Collective Bargaining Agreement with the City of Providence which set their wages, rates of pay, grievance procedures, promotions, provided union security, outlined management rights and the like. That Collective Bargaining Agreement was ratified and renewed. The Collective Bargaining Agreement is due to expire on June 30, 2017. In the spring of 2015, the Mayor of the City of Providence and the Public Safety Commissioner, in an attempt to save financial resources, indicated to the Union that a three-battalion structure would be created to replace the current four-battalion structure.[1] Eventually, negotiations on the pay, hours and other effects of this change took place. The first negotiating session was held on May 29, 2015 and sessions continued during this litigation." Doughty v. Elorza, 2015 WL 5432649, at *1 (R.I. Super. Sept. 10, 2015).

The negotiating sessions proved ineffective. On June 15, 2015, the Union filed its original Complaint with the Court seeking injunctive relief to prevent the City from making this battalion shift change and a declaratory judgment declaring that the City cannot make such a change. See original Compl. "Although the Union pressed for injunctive relief to prevent the elimination of the fourth battalion, the request was unsuccessful. On August 2, 2015, the City of Providence eliminated the fourth battalion, and the firefighters in the City of Providence [now work] on three shifts. The elimination of the fourth battalion has resulted in an increased number of regularly scheduled work hours for most firefighters."[2] Doughty, 2015 WL 5432649, at *1.

On August 26, 2015, the Union filed an Amended Complaint with this Court seeking declaratory judgment that the Union is entitled to arbitrate under the grievance provisions of the Collective Bargaining Agreement and damages for the City's failure to pay wages and benefits upon separation of employment. See Am. Compl. The City promptly stipulated that it accepted this Amended Complaint.

On September 10, 2015, the Court issued the Decision pertaining to the Union's request for declaratory judgment and injunctive relief as contained in the Union's original Complaint. In its Decision, the Court granted declaratory judgment ordering that,

"1. The implementation of the three-platoon structure was a management right of the City of Providence;
"2. The effects of the implementation of the three-platoon structure including wages, rates of pay, hours and other terms and conditions of employment shall be resolved pursuant to the grievance procedures set forth in Article XVI, Section 1 of the Collective Bargaining Agreement; [and]
"3. If the grievance procedures do not resolve the disputes, grievance arbitration pursuant to Article XVI, Section 2 of the Collective Bargaining Agreement shall apply, and the decision of the Arbitrator shall be final and binding as the Collective ...

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