With no platoon deal in place, Elorza plans to pay firefighters 8% more

Mayor Jorge Elorza talks to reporters in his office. (Photo by Dan McGowan/WPRI 12)

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) – There is no deal in place, but Providence firefighters will receive a pay increase for working an additional 14 hours each week beginning Sunday.

Mayor Jorge Elorza said Friday he will move forward with an 8% across-the-board pay increase for firefighters when the fire department switches from four platoons to three this weekend, even though he hasn’t reached an agreement on the changes with Local 799 of the International Association of Firefighters.

“We’ve reached a point where negotiations have ended,” Elorza told reporters gathered in his City Hall office. He said the union rejected two offers, including a 33% pay increase for all hours actually worked that wouldn’t have counted toward firefighters’ pensions. The other was a 10% increase that would count toward the pension.

Elorza’s plan will require firefighters to go from working an average of 42 hours per week to an average of 56 hours. Implementation will begin Sunday at 8 a.m., according to Public Safety Commissioner Steven Pare.

Under the new three-platoon system, firefighters will continue to work two 10-hour days followed by two 14-hour nights, but they will now have two days off. (Under the four platoon structure, they had four days off.)

Elorza claims his proposal will ultimately save the city between $5 million and $7 million a year, but he acknowledged that he doesn’t know how much savings will be achieved for the current fiscal year that started July 1.

Paul Doughty, the union president, did not respond to repeated requests for comment Friday.

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Dan McGowan ( dmcgowan@wpri.com ) covers politics, education and the city of Providence for WPRI.com. Follow him on Facebook and Twitter: @danmcgowan

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