James Cournoyer: Please Allow Municipalities to Have the Flexibility of a Three Platoon Firefighting System


[James Cournoyer sent the following e-mail to members of the General Assembly. It is published here with permission. Additional background on this subject is available here.]

Dear members of the General Assembly,

Please reject House Bill H-5473 and Senate Bill S-0533, which seeks to make fire-fighter Platoon Structures / Shift Schedules subject to Collective Bargaining, and therefore potentially subject to the decisions of unelected and unaccountable arbitrators.

These bills serve only to further erode essential Management Rights and the ability of municipalities to exercise home rule.

Employees are already afforded an abundance of work-place and employment protections via the myriad of state and federal labor laws and regulations that currently exist. The last thing we need is yet another assault on the abilities of municipalities to manage their affairs in a fiscally prudent manner.

Lastly and most importantly, please keep in mind that the greatest protection our public employees (including fire-fighters) have against real or perceived poor working conditions or mistreatment by management is the freedom to go find another job. Last I checked, nobody was rounded up at the point of a gun and forced to work in conditions that they were uncomfortable with.

If a municipality determines that a particular platoon or shift structure is in the best interests of the municipality, they should not be interfered with via General Assembly fiat. It is not in any municipality’s interest to create an unreasonable platoon or shift-structure that would result in the municipality’s ability to attract and retain qualified employees. In short, do not further insert yourselves into the internal affairs of municipalities and management rights with this egregious legislation. Rather, stand down and allow the free market to work. Do not attempt to fix something that is not broken.

Thank you for your consideration on this important matter.

[James Cournoyer is a resident of Woonsocket.]