Providence, R.I., fire and police unions have sued Rhode Island's capital city, saying the city didn't factor longevity payments in calculating overtime pay.
Local 799 of the International Association of Firefighters, AFL-CIO, and the Providence Fraternal Order of Police, Lodge No. 3, filed separate actions in the U.S. District Court for the District of Rhode Island, each accusing the city of violating the federal Fair Labor Standards Act and requesting relief, including back pay.
Taft Manzotti, president of the Providence Fraternal Order of Police, filed the police action on Dec. 23. Fire union president Paul Doughty filed the other action in November. "We have a fundamental disagreement on the calculation of the overtime rate and our first priority is to fix it," Doughty told WPRI.com.
The city, in its response to the fire union action in November, urged dismissal of the suit and reimbursement of attorney's fees and court costs.
The dispute comes roughly six months after Rhode Island Superior Court Judge Sarah Taft-Carter signed off on a pension compromise between Providence and its police officers, firefighters and retirees. Mayor Angel Taveras said without the pension cuts, the 178,000-population city faced possible bankruptcy.
Moody's Investors Service rates the city's general obligation bonds Baa1, while Fitch Ratings and Standard & Poor's assign BBB ratings.
Taft-Carter entered consent judgments finalizing changes that capped all pensions at either 150% of the state median income or less than the salary of the current employee in the position. Under the agreement, all cost of living adjustments, or COLAs, were suspended for 10 years. After that, COLAs will only be reinstated for retirees who are under the pension cap, and COLAs will end when the cap is reached.
All 5% and 6% compounded COLAs were eliminated.