Judge to rule if an arbitrator will decide Providence & firefighters’ dispute

A Superior Court judge is set to issue an opinion on whether the City of Providence and its firefighters union will be headed to arbitration after the two sides failed to reach agreement on the mayor’s change in platoon scheduling.

Mayor Jorge Elorza said he urged the judge to rule that arbitration is not necessary.

“It is the city’s position that arbitration doesn’t apply here,” said Elorza, adding that if the judge rules in favor of arbitration that the city will consider appealing the decision.

“This isn’t something we brought upon ourselves, this is his choosing, we’re stuck with it, and we’re going to fight like hell against it,” said Union President Paul Doughty.

The judge’s decision to consider arbitration came before firefighters protested at City Hall, outside the city council chamber, in what they billed as a “Rally Against Elorza.”

More than 100 firefighters joined the protest, questioning why the mayor’s cuts to close a projected budget deficit have to fall on their backs.

Elorza said the failure to come to terms with the union in mediation was the result of not being on the same page when it comes to the costs of running the fire department.

“I’ve sat down and offered so many different things to the firefighters; I’ve offered them raises, I’ve offered to pay them for every single hour,” said Elorza “[these] have been rejected.”