Former Providence, Rhode Island Chief George Farrell will not be getting more than $15,000 for sick he earned over the last four years. The chief, who says he retired due to a battle with leukemia, will still get more than $27,000 for vacation days he didn't use. A spokesman for Mayor Angel Taveras said the vacation payment is required under state law but that the administration was ending a longstanding practice of paying for the unused sick leave unless it is approved by the City Council.
Farrell previously retired from the department in 2006 as fire marshal and was paid $74,516 for sick and vacation time not used. He was brought back as chief a year later by Mayor David Cicilline.
Previously Chief Farrell defended the practice saying it has been in place for three decades and was not a special deal for him. But the union has opposed to the payout for the former chief.
At about the same time IAFF Local 799 reached a tentative agreement with the Taveras administration that is expected to prevent firefighter layoffs. WPRI-TV reports the firefighters will give up a scheduled three percent pay raise, allow for reduced minimum staffing, pay more for health care, receive less paid vacation and change retirement benefits for new employees. Watch that story below.
Paul Doughty, president of the city firefighters union, said Monday the city government does not have to let Farrell cash out his unused time off because he's not covered by the union's collective-bargaining agreement. "We'd ask the Taveras administration to follow the law and deny payment," he said.
Farrell said the fire department's leadership should get paid for accrued sick and vacation days since rank-and-file firefighters do.
"I and all the other chiefs in the Providence Fire Department simply believe that the benefits that we were entitled to for 25 years or more while we were members of the union should not be stripped away solely based on a promotion which takes us out of the union," he said.
Doughty disagreed, arguing the higher pay top officials receive should be enough to compensate them. Farrell "wants the best of both worlds – the astronomical salary and all the union benefits," Doughty said.
Also on STATter911 …
- Sick leave ‘abuse’ suddenly drops by 66-percent in Minneapolis FD. See how one fire chief solved problem only days after consultant’s report made newspaper headlines. – July 31, 2012
- Bah! Humbug! Did DC’s mayor play Scrooge for cops & firefighters over the holidays leaving them out of the holiday bonus? Vince Gray says no. Unions say yes. – December 25, 2012
- Update to must see video: Dearborn, Michigan firefighters talk about their extemely close call on the roof of burning Fordson Cleaners. – March 30, 2012
- Stabbing victim transported in DC fire truck New Year’s Eve. Ambulances & medic units not staffed. Lack of planning & high sick leave use cited. – January 2, 2013
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