Guest MINDSETTER™ Tom Kenney: The Gloves Come Off

Thursday, October 15, 2015


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Jorge Elorza

I think it’s time to take the gloves off in our (Providence firefighters) battle with the so-called mayor of the City of Providence. In Sunday’s 10 News Conference this poor excuse for a human being states that the Providence firefighters have been on the overtime gravy train and he’s going to put a stop to it. He calls us greedy.

Now I understand that some of the general public, especially union haters, might agree with him, but I’d like to think that the reasonable people who may agree with him are not totally aware of the facts.

He continues to portray our battle as the union fighting to maintain grossly exaggerated overtime. Fact: Our battle has absolutely nothing to do with overtime. Our battle has everything to do with forcing us to work an additional 14 hours per week with only a day and 1Ž2 off between work weeks. We are not looking to maintain the recent overtime. We would like to see him cut out overtime by hiring enough firefighters. Working these exaggerated hours only makes our jobs unsafe for us and for the general public.

He complains about excessive overtime and states that his new scheduling will eliminate it. Fact: Overtime costs have risen in the first two months of his plan. Fact: The overtime is, and always has been, a direct result of understaffing. Presently the PFD is about 130 firefighters short of its normal staffing levels – approximately 1Ž4 of the department is unstaffed.

He states that the City is going to beat the union in court. Fact: It’s very unlikely that the City will prevail in court as the judge has already ruled that we go to binding arbitration, which is what we petitioned the court for. If the City does not win in court they will end up having to return to the previous shift schedule and will owe Providence firefighters somewhere between $9-16 million.

He states that he and his legal team are on top of the situation. Fact: His legal team has made one stupid mistake after another in this battle. They first attempted to petition the court to have our contract labeled null and void – until they realized (after our union stated such in the news) that all concessions given back to the City by firefighters in the past 5 years or so ($20-30 million) would have to be repaid to the members and that pension concessions that active and retired members agreed to a few years ago (which are saving millions of dollars) would also be rescinded. That’s a lot more than a small mistake.

His legal team also asked the judge to throw out our case after the judge had ruled in our favor regarding arbitration. That sounds good until you realize that such a motion is to be filed prior to the judge rendering a verdict – just another small mistake by his boys.

The City council voted to hire a lawyer on their own (an unprecedented move) to watch over the City’s lawyers in this case. That’s how much the council is worried about the competence of his crack team.

He states that he gave us an 8% pay raise to compensate for the additional 33% workload. Fact: He is paying each firefighter about $6 per hour for the extra 14 hours of work.

He testified to the RI General Assembly that “There’s no question that they should be paid for the extra hours they will work. The only question is whether that pay will be at the overtime rate or at straight time”. $6 per hour is not straight pay. He lied in his testimony!!

He told a group of firefighters that he would definitely not implement a change in the platoon system unilaterally before sitting down with the union. About an hour later he “notified” the union that he was announcing the change the next morning at a news conference that had already been called. Absolute liar!

If you go back in this story and read every article from the beginning you’ll see that every time the union and the City stated different views on an issue the union ended up being correct. This should give Providence taxpayers a very uneasy feeling going forward as this incompetent boob continues to guarantee victory. The financial ramifications are too large and too real to be ignored.

Fact: This little man continues to live in his parents’ basement – now that’s a real confidence builder!

Fact: This man visited Guatemala to visit a leader who resigned under protest as being involved in civil rights violations including attempted genocide on his own citizens. Mr. Elorza claimed to have not known anything about this. This gives me no confidence about him being an intelligent and informed leader of an American city or anyone with morals.

Fact: He also visited China while the City faces enormous legal and financial decisions daily at City Hall.

He states that his parents were (are?) illegal immigrants and supports illegals being given driver’s licenses. Apparently he believes in being fair to those who come to this country illegally and enjoy entitlements from the taxpayers but thinks that the greedy firefighters, who already worked more than 40 hours per week, deserve to be forced to work an additional 33% more hours for a token payment. Not to mention the dangerous conditions of our work.

He complains that one Rescue Captain made $116,000 in overtime last year, but he acknowledges that this Captain worked about 84 hours per week on average. That’s more hours than 2 full time employees at City Hall put in per week combined. This is actually something our union has been trying to eliminate by attempting to force the City to hire an adequate number of firefighters. Working understaffed is something the fire department has been doing since Cianci was mayor. Paying a bit of overtime is cheaper than hiring full time firefighters – up until a certain amount. This practice has been getting out of hand under the last three mayors (including Elorza), but then they blame the overtime on the firefighters. Liars!

He and his Commissioner of Public Safety, Steven Pare, are now insulting the integrity of our members and calling us liars and greedy. They are the ones who are liars – both of them! I hate to have to be so mean spirited while discussing his actions but he has proven to be an outright liar – even in his testimony to the General Assembly. You can’t fight someone with no moral character by being polite. Unfortunately I need to call him out.

If he is asked any questions on what I’ve posted he will most certainly re-state that the overtime is excessive…they’ve been on an overtime gravy train and I’m going to stop it…one Rescue Captain made over $100K in overtime…etc. If anyone attempts to ask him direct questions about how he lied to the General Assembly or what basis does he and his crack legal team have for expecting victory, he’ll probably run back to his office in a fit!


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