Providence firefighters agree to $5.9M OT settlement

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) – Providence firefighters voted overwhelmingly Thursday to support a deal to settle state and federal legal disputes regarding overtime payments filed over the last several years.

Members of Local 799 of the International Association of Firefighters voted 206-30 in favor of an agreement that will pay them $5.9 million over the next two fiscal years, according to Derek Silva, the union’s vice president.

The deal is expected to win swift approval of judges in Rhode Island Superior Court and the U.S. District Court. While the settlement did not require approval of the City Council, the city’s legislative body approved a resolution to signal its support in November.

The agreement settles a lawsuit filed by the firefighters’ union over the amount its members should be paid for Mayor Jorge Elorza’s short-lived department shift change, as well as a separate suit dating back to 2013 that accused the city of violating the federal Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) when calculating overtime. (The city’s police union has also filed suit against the city related to the FLSA, but the two sides have not reached an agreement.)

Under the terms of the deal, active firefighters – and some recent retirees – would be paid $5.9 million in two installments by July 1. The funds will be divided up by the firefighters based on the amount of overtime they worked. None of the payments can count toward a worker’s pension.

Aside from the $5.9 million firefighters will receive, the city has also agreed to provide a 64-hour bank of paid leave to each active firefighter, although the union agreed that its members won’t use their new hours if their absence forces the city to pay time-and-a-half to replace them.

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