East Greenwich Firefighters Union taking legal action against town

West Bay

The East Greenwich Firefighters Union is once again seeking legal action against the town.

In November, a judge ruled that the town manager had no valid basis for firing a firefighter, and the union was later awarded more than $40,000 in attorney fees.

Now, the union could be heading to court once again. In a complaint filed on Friday, Union President Bill Perry says members of his department haven’t been fully compensated for their work. Specifically, he cites collateral duties performed by members of the department, which includes training, the EMS coordinator, the Hazmat officer and health and wellness coordinator.

“Many of our members do collaborative duties, which is EMS, training, stuff like that, dispatch,” Perry said. “They have not been counting those hours as hours worked with our employer, which is against the law.”

Court documents indicate a collective bargaining agreement between the town and the union, saying firefighters are considered “on duty” when they perform collateral work, which means they are entitled to their normal rights and benefits.

While the union claims firefighters have not been paid for collateral duties, the town refutes those claims.

“Obviously, you would have heard about it sooner if we didn’t pay overtime or collateral duties,” Town Manager Gayle Corrigan said. “You would have heard about it the very next day.”

When asked if this was the first time Corrigan had heard about the firefighters not receiving compensation for collateral duties, she said it was.

“In terms of their overtime and collateral duties, absolutely,” Corrigan said. “We do pay weekly for the hours worked the previous week.”

The town said it hasn’t been served the lawsuit yet, though it was filed Friday in federal court. Perry’s attorney said the union is still calculating how much money the town allegedly owes them, but they filed the suit now so they didn’t miss the deadline to recoup their alleged losses.

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