Whoda Thunk? A Double-dipping Union Hack
Providence Fire Union president Paul Doughty has not come to work for much of the last three years, staffing what Chief George Farrell said appeared to be a no-show position in the department’s training division instead of working a fire truck.
At the same time, Doughty was making extra cash working overtime shifts to fill the vacancy created when he left his job on a special hazards truck, according to a Journal analysis of department records; Farrell said that amounted to double-billing the city.
Perhaps the most illustrative aspect of the whole story is the “that’s the way it’s always been done” attitude of both Doughty and past union president Stephen Day. Guess what guys, business as usual ain’t gonna cut it this time.
Doughty asserts that he has done nothing wrong: he acknowledges that he did not come to work for almost three years, but said he had been authorized to work full-time on union business by Farrell’s predecessor as chief, David Costa. He said that previous union presidents — including Farrell — have been allowed to do union business full-time. The union contract allows the president to take time off for union business, but it does not specify how much.
Doughty said that he was not double-billing by working overtime shifts. Once he was assigned to the Division of Training, he said, it was irrelevant where he served previously.
“I know it doesn’t sound good, but no matter where I go, because of the way minimum manning is structured, either they’re paying me or they’re paying someone else,” he said. “But at the end of the day, it’s not my spot … for 17 years it’s been my spot, but for those three years or whatever, it wasn’t my spot.”
All agree that Doughty’s predecessor as union president, David Peters, worked on a truck at least 20 hours weekly. Peters served the union between Farrell and Doughty, from 2002 to 2004.
But Stephen T. Day, fire union president from 1988 to 1996, said that he was allowed to work on union business full-time, and that he, too, worked overtime shifts on his former truck.
Day said that past practice proves that Doughty’s actions are proper.
“This is a smokescreen issue, this is retaliation for Paul Doughty speaking up to defend his members,” Day said.
To Farrell, that’s ridiculous. He said that had The Journal not started asking questions, he would have handled this internally — to have it come out in public just makes his department look bad.
You got that right, Chief. And it confirms all of the worst suspicions the public has.