To The Editor:
I recently made a Freedom of Information Request to the City regarding the Fire Union’s new 24-hour schedule.
I then listened to the March City Council meeting during which Mayor Zoppo tried to claim that the schedule change is a “clairification.”
After many years of the city refusing to implement the 24/72 schedule, including an arbitration award which ruled in the City’s favor, Mayor Zoppo quietly handed over the desirable schedule to the firefighter’s union. After all, how else could she pay them back for their generous campaign donations? Hats off to her campaign manager who is also a firefighter.
In addition to my request for the schedule, I also requested any analysis on the savings or cost for implementing this schedule and was given nothing.
Is there a savings? What is the cost? How does the city allow implementation of a new schedule for the entire fire department without looking at the impact? Is there really a health and wellness component to this schedule? Moreover, if there is that component where are the studies to prove that a 24/72 schedule is better and safer for firefighters and residents?
The mayor says she “hopes” there will be a reduction in sick time and that there will be an opportunity in a year to review the schedule.
I know she is not that naïve, or maybe she is playing us all. Simply put, there is no going back on this and the new schedule means firefighters work seven days a month.
To sell the schedule, the mayor listed all of the other fire departments that have this schedule. However, she is being purposely misleading because its apples and oranges.
Specifically, most if not all of those towns are first responders and have significantly higher call volume compared to Bristol, which would provide some rationale for this type of schedule after a busy call night-they also have a great number of employees.
Don’t get me wrong, I have the utmost respect for the dedicated hard work that the city’s firefighters perform. Nevertheless, it is unequivocally ironic that as a mayor who talks incessantly about transparency, she did not have the courtesy to go through proper channels to receive feedback.
She neither notified the City Council, until prodded, nor informed the Board of Finance. I cringe thinking about next year to see what is given away when their contract is actually open. At least then, she will be forced to do it more “transparently” with a vote of the council.
This is a wakeup call because this is not the end.
The police union supported her campaign too and their handout will be next by allowing our officers to work in other towns on private duty jobs. You will be told that it is a revenue generator and that other towns do it to.
Taxpayers beware. As many moms used to ask, if everyone else jumped off a bridge would you?