Negotiating with the Speaker in the Room


Thanks to the reporting of Providence Journal reporter Katherine Gregg we have some explanation of the motivation behind Democrat state Representative John “Jay” Edwards legislation to change overtime rules in favor of fire fighters.  Unfortunately, the explanation comes not from the Tiverton/Portsmouth representative who put the bill in, but the Speaker of the House who told him to do it:

During an interview with The Journal on Tuesday, Democrat Mattiello, of Cranston, acknowledged he is an enthusiastic supporter of the legislation that Cranston Deputy Fire Chief Paul Valletta has been pushing at the State House in his role as the $3,035.58-a-month lobbyist for the Rhode Island State Association of Fire Fighters. …

“We had the opportunity to pass this bill several years ago. We elected not to at that point and I remember knocking on one of my constituent’s doors. He was a Providence firefighter and he was a little frustrated and he said, ‘I am still going to vote for you speaker but I’m angry with you. … I have not seen my wife and my 8-year-old daughter in a year.’ That is inappropriate,″ Mattiello said. “The schedules that three platoons create are horrific on families … and if communities are going to do that, they should at least be required to pay the overtime.”

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Mattiello acknowledges that he did no research concerning this issue or how other states have addressed it.  Despite the distance from Cranston to the East Bay, he might at least have made some inquiries about things in Tiverton.  We’ve worked hard on a solution — through a contract negotiated in good faith that is on track to be signed within mere weeks — precisely because employees were unhappy with the arrangement and it has affected morale, retention, and hiring.  In fact, his interference at the state level has complicated the situation locally.

Readers of this site know that I’m (let’s just say) skeptical of unionization, especially of government employees, but even by labor’s own standards the whole idea is that two sides come to the table and work out an agreement.  If the Speaker of the House is in the room, too, then the arrangement deserves much more than skepticism.

  • Joe Smith

    I have not seen my wife and my 8-year-old daughter in a year.’

    According to WPRI in 2017 – “Under the new contract, the department will go back to four platoons and firefighters will work a 24-hour shift followed by 48 hours off followed by 24 hours on and then have 96 hours off. (This works out to an average of 42 hours per week over the course of a month.) This is the same schedule the Boston Fire Department uses.”

    What’s also lacking is the fact PVD firefighters were understaffed until new fire academy classes came on board in 2017 and 2018.

    I fail to see – unless the OT was voluntary – how the guy didn’t see his family (even acknowledging the hyperbole in the statement for effect).

    And geez..where does “management” start – a Deputy Chief is still union?

    Put that right up there with the Gov’s anecdotal stories on the starving CCRI students or the students who would have gone to college except lacking the additional $1,000 or so.

    • ShannonEntropy

      Even better… Mattiello got that ridiculous comment when he went to the home of the firefighter and knocked on the door !!

      So it’s the fire dept’s fault that the jerk got divorced and his wife and kids skidaddled to Jamaica with her new boyfriend last year ??

      I won’t even insult Mattiello’s intelligence by implying that he actually believes any of this bull carp