To The Editor:
On Wednesday, March 14, Mayor Zoppo-Sassu announced that she had created a memorandum of understanding for the purpose of altering the fire schedule to 24/72 schedule; where firefighters work a 10 hour day shift followed by a 14 hour night shift and then two days off. This MoU was created to alter the existing fire contract schedule while keeping the 90 days and 90 nights contract requirement in place.
Under the guise of health and wellness, the Mayor and fire union altered the schedule through back door channels. While these purposes are pure speculation, one thing is certain, there is no evidence to suggest a 24/72 schedule is better for the health and wellbeing of firefighters, and in fact a review of existing literature says that “19 hours without sleep has the same performance effect as having a blood alcohol level of 0.05%; after 24 hours without sleep, the performance effect is equivalent to having a blood alcohol level of 0.1%.”
However, regardless of the merits of this case, the citizens of Bristol should NOT ignore the fact the previous two administrations refused to negotiate this schedule into the contract. Also it is has been commonplace for contracts and amendments to come before the City Council for approval.
In this case, it is even more curious as to why the first time the council heard about this deal was Wednesday. Doesn’t our current administration have a 5-1 majority on the council? If indeed this is the right thing to do, I would think Mayor Zoppo-Sassu could garner a majority vote.
The answer is simple; this MoU is not about health and wellness. It is not about cost savings. It is not even about doing the right thing by having a legitimate discussion about how we improve the lives of our first responders. The MoU was about fulfilling a campaign promise-nothing more and nothing less.
This is an example of the behavior that we have seen and will continue to see in an administration that knows what is best and will govern without regard to her constituency, and with absolutely no transparency.
Bristol Republican Town Committee