Michael Morse: The All-American, Union Family

[The following first appeared on Anchor Rising as a comment to this post.]
I grew up in a union household. My father belonged to the IBEW until he was promoted and took a job in management, taking with him the morality and ethics of his union membership. I remember my uncle, Bill, proudly wearing his Teamsters cap. Uncle Ron was a Warwick cop. Brian was president of his union at Rhode Island College. We would spend summer days at their homes, surrounded by family, the American flag always flying, either on a flagpole or attached to the house, the red, white, and blue flew proudly.
Modest homes meticulously kept, hard work, and an ability to enjoy the fruits of their labor and share them with friends and family was all they wanted. Uncle Bill was a WWII vet, my father a Navy signal man during the Korean War. Brian served in the Air Force during the Viet Nam War. They lived, and live, good, honest lives, are fiercely proud of their country, and fought for the freedoms we now enjoy. Union members. Not everybody in my family, but those I remember most.
My brother, Bob, just returned from Iraq. 500 days. Another union man. Myself, a firefighter in Providence. Union. We are living in the shadow of our uncles and father, and it is my belief we have made them proud.
Some of our union leaders have let us down, just as some of our elected officials have let us down. Politics is a cutthroat business, and like it or not, everything is political. Those that have risen to the top of our ranks thrive in that arena; most of us would rather do our jobs, do them well, and live our lives. We need people in positions of power for us to do that.
Relentless media attacks have insulated the union ranks. An us-against-them attitude prevails. Gone are the days when a union worked with management in a respectful, productive atmosphere. Maybe that never existed; I don’t know. “Gold Plated Benefits, Feeding at the Public Trough, Picking Our Pockets,” and on and on. “Socialists, communists, serving the weak, protecting the incompetent…,” enough already.
Maybe you grew up in a different world. Judging from some commentary here, you don’t have a clue about mine.
Michael Morse is a lieutenant with the Providence Fire Department and the author of Rescuing Providence.

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Mike Cappelli
Mike Cappelli
13 years ago

I have something to say to Michael:
When the taxpayers have to hear about how your union president is robbing them blind, and your union is 100% behind HIM, you deserve the criticism.
When they hear about the 43 year old police captain in Cranston, already working another job at $90,000 per year, who won’t retire until he “runs out the clock”, and sucks every last penny out of them, and gets his pension up to over $60,000 a year, something he can collect right away, you deserve the criticism.
When you hear about the Cranston firefigher smoking dope in an elementary school WHILE SCHOOL IS IN SESSION, and the union fights to protect him, you deserve the rebuke.
Michael, your unions SUCK! Do you know why? Because they do NOTHING to protect the taxpayers!
They exist merely to protect a bunch of incompetent, lazy bums that otherwise would not be able to make the money you force the taxpayers to fork offer for their lousy service. Michael, those who work hard and do an admirable job, DO NOT NEED YOUR A UNION!
Answer me one question: Why do the TAXPAYERS need their employees to be unionized?

michael
michael
13 years ago

My union president isn’t robbing anybody. The city administration uses our union president as a human resourses position. They continue to pay him his firefighters salary while in effect transfering him to another role. The position he held on Special Hazards is vacant. That position is filled with overtime. When his name comes up, he accepts the overtime shift, sometimes, not always. I’m glad to have him on the truck. He is one of our best.

John
John
13 years ago

There it is Michael, you just don’t get it. The position he is in should never be allowed to be taken out of the regular full-time service. Union reps on staff should be doing the union work on their own time as their part-time job, not on the taxpayer time and dime.
You guys just don’t get it.

michael
michael
13 years ago

Never said it was right. There are a lot of things in our contract that need to be modified.
Our union president does do a valuable service for the city as well as the union. Maybe that is why decades ago they started doing things like this.

rhody
rhody
13 years ago

Well said, Michael Morse. While I don’t always agree with the strategy and tactics of public employee unions, it’s about time somebody stood up and recognized that unions have become the main scapegoat for elected officials and the commentariat, from talk radio to bloggers.
I’m a member of a private sector union, and know what it’s like to be laid off, to have to fight 4 1/2 years for a contract, and feel the slings and arrows of those who feel contempt for the working man (and woman). I know what it’s like to be attacked for the sin of trying to provide for one’s family – sometimes the best way to deal with it is to laugh in the face of an ignorant enemy. After all, anger takes years off one’s life expectancy.

Tim
Tim
13 years ago

Justin,
Good to see Michael isn’t self absorbed eh? lol
Michael,
Can only speak for myself in saying I could care less where you’ve been, where you currently stand or where you are heading in this life. Don’t care one bit. Just have two requests of you and your union brethren. Stop copping the attitude that union are a special class of worker. You’re not and all are easily replaced by those from the real world. Second request is for you and your ilk to stay out of my wallet! That’s all!

Monique
Editor
13 years ago

Let us remember who the primary culprit is here.
It is not public labor unions who hold the power, devolved from we the people, which enable all of these abuses. It is held by our elected officials. And we devolved that power to them on the condition (one of several) that they hold all special interests at arms length and use that power to act in the best interest of the citizens and the city or state as a whole.
Instead, whether due to lack of brains, lack of spine or lack of a sense of right and wrong, some elected officials (stay tuned to Anchor Rising for an example!) have taken that power and abused it. The abuse manifests itself in a myriad of ways, including patently absurd contracts which permit captains to triple dip.
Whatever the form, whatever the reason, it is not acceptable and the preponderance of our ire should be directed against them – and, at the same time, on replacing them.

michael
michael
13 years ago

“They exist merely to protect a bunch of incompetent, lazy bums that otherwise would not be able to make the money you force the taxpayers to fork offer for their lousy service. Michael, those who work hard and do an admirable job, DO NOT NEED YOUR A UNION!
Answer me one question: Why do the TAXPAYERS need their employees to be unionized?”
I have in the past and will in the future “make the money” and more than I do as a member of my union.
The Taxpayers don’t need their employees to be unionized. The people who work for the taxpayers are unionized so they can better their working conditions, pay and benefits. In this instance the group has more power than the individual. When the economy is depressed, union members fare better than non-union people. When the economy thrives, and anybody with half a brain and an ounce of initiative takes advantage of the opportunity presented, union members and their average pay and above average benefits aren’t an issue.
Stop copping the attitude that union are a special class of worker. You’re not and all are easily replaced by those from the real world. Second request is for you and your ilk to stay out of my wallet! That’s all!
Tim, Mike Capelli and their “ilk” are the exact reason unions exist.

Mike Cappelli
Mike Cappelli
13 years ago

Excuse me michael, but the city does not exist to employ you in good jobs at good wages. The city exists for the taxpayers. You concerns are secondary!
Public employee unions should be illegal. They do nothing for the taxpayers! It is your way of thinking, michael, for why people say, correctly, that you are “Feeding at the Public Trough, Picking Our Pockets,” and on and on. “Socialists, communists, serving the weak, protecting the incompetent…,” That is nothing but justifiable and accurate critcism.
What makes you think your rights trump those of the taxpayers?

michael
michael
13 years ago

City employees perform a service for which they are paid a fair wage. Simple as that. People like yourself have no respect for the employees of the city. We are not slaves or pawns in a game.

EMT
EMT
13 years ago

“When you hear about the Cranston firefigher smoking dope in an elementary school WHILE SCHOOL IS IN SESSION, and the union fights to protect him, you deserve the rebuke.”
How many times do I need to cover this? Only someone like Capelli would need this explained more than once…
The union is LEGALLY OBLIGATED to defend the man! You think they WANTED to? I guarantee I know more people at CFD than you do- they wanted him GONE!
Problem is, the contract between the union and management is also a contract between the union and the employee- the employee agrees to be represented by and pay dues to the union, and the union agrees to represent the employee.
Had the union hung this individual out to dry (which was proposed at the very next union meeting), he could have sued the union and won.
Trust me, the men of the Cranston Fire Department were LIVID that their dues money had to go to that moron’s defense, but they were QUITE happy that he lost.
I wish I could draw it in crayon so you’d understand, Mike. Really I do. I just can’t make it any simpler than this.

Justin Katz
13 years ago

EMT,
I don’t see that the contractual obligation matters. A consequence of the union system is his defense — wasted time, wasted resources, and a prior knowledge that one will not be hung out to dry.

Mike
Mike
13 years ago

I have always found firemen and EMT’s to do an excepional job and in a humane manner.
However, the simple reality is that the “retire at 41 with full pension, COLA’s and gold plated free family medical for life” is bizare and unsustainable.
No less so than paying some illegal $60,000 a year plus full benefits to babysit a couple of her girlfriends kids.

EMT
EMT
13 years ago

And in a non-union system, what’s to stop an employer from firing anyone they want for no reason? Metting out discipline indiscriminately? Imposing arbitrary hours and poor working conditions?
The reason firefighting isn’t THE most dangerous job in the world is because of the safety advances and laws fought for, in large part, by the IAFF. Without the FOP cops would probably be going onto the streets with no body armor.
I’ve been non-union since I received my EMT license, and I’ve gotta tell you- non-union employers will do ANYTHING they think they can get away with. They’re not afraid of the Labor Board and they’re not afraid of OSHA- compliance costs more than the fines.
Such was the case when a coworker was fired for attempting to organize us. Illegal? Sure. The owner went on to lose the employee’s labor complaint, which resulted in a and back wages- but it still cost him less in the long run.
Even informing these agencies of a dozen violations can’t get you a site visit. Just a letter to the employer from OSHA reminding them of their responsibilities and suggesting the possibility of an inspection.
What did it change? We got an MSDS book posted in the kitchen. The other 9 violations were never addressed to the point of compliance.
I can already hear you typing: “Well, leave then.” Sure. For one of the 6 other non-compliant employers.
Who are the compliant ones?
The union departments.

Greg
Greg
13 years ago

God! How do us poor non-union folks even SURVIVE in such a harsh reality where we can be fired for no reason at any time?!
Actually just fine. We work hard and add value to the company and when it comes time to cull the dead weight we aren’t on that list.

EMT
EMT
13 years ago

So you’re perfectly willing to be employed at the whim of a department head that changes hands every few years? Nothing to stop them from, say, NOT letting you go home at the end of your day as they see fit? Changing or eliminating your benefits arbitrarily? Forcing you to work dangerous jobs without legally required safety protection? How about if they decided that you’re “dead weight” just to prevent you from reaching top pay, or maybe collecting retirement?
What a herd of sheep we’ve got here.

MIke Cappelli
MIke Cappelli
13 years ago

First off, EMT, “The union is LEGALLY OBLIGATED to defend the man!” is EXACTLY why I say public employee unions do NOTHING FOR THE TAXPAYERS! And this is precisely why they should be illiegal.
Second, this sky is falling nonsense – “Nothing to stop them from, say, NOT letting you go home at the end of your day as they see fit? Changing or eliminating your benefits arbitrarily? Forcing you to work dangerous jobs without legally required safety protection? How about if they decided that you’re “dead weight” just to prevent you from reaching top pay, or maybe collecting retirement?” – is nothing but a bunch of bulls* lies you are spoonfed by your union whore leaders who can’t allow you to think otherwise.
EMT, just how do you think a company can survive if they keep s****ing all over their workers? In a competitive business, there is a constant struggle to attract and RETAIN the most talented and productive people. I think what you are afraid of, yet unable to admit, is that you want the unproductive ones protected, and therein lies the disagreement. This is why unions are properly referred to as socialists.
Your union leaders have replaced the invisible hand of Adam Smith with the invisible finger of Frank Montanaro.

rhody
rhody
13 years ago

Yes, it was unions that cost the Patriots the Super Bowl.
Hey, we blame unions for everything that goes wrong.

Greg
Greg
13 years ago

EMT, free market works both ways. I’m free to go elsewhere for better pay, benefits, perks, whatever. And the company is free to get rid of me at any time.
Strangely enough, it works. And has worked for as long as the free market has existed. Thousands of years, in fact. I’m pretty sure that the guy that the Three Wise Men bought gold from wasn’t a union shop.

EMT
EMT
13 years ago

How many times do I have to tell you that I don’t belong to a union?
It’s also somewhat… no, very disingenuous to put a private sector paradigm on public safety. They just don’t work the same way, union or no union. As I explained, Greg, “free to leave” doesn’t mean the same thing for you as it does for me. I’m fortunate that I found a non-municipal job where I’m treated well, treated legally, sans union. Still no job protection though (which is how my job became vacant).
My friends back on the truly private sector ambulance jobs have no protection, are treated like crap, and are free to leave…. and go to a different company and STILL be treated like crap.
Or they can get a union job and actually make a living and provide their families with protection and benefits. Some of them wind up in other healthcare fields, like nursing. In a union hospital, or at LEAST one where the employees bargain collectively.
Why would I want to protect unproductive coworkers? In my line of work, if you don’t give 100%, somebody dies. For those of us on the ambulance, it’s just one patient at a time, and usually there’s not an overt amount of danger to myself. But the patient is still just as dead if we don’t give it our best all the time.
The guys running into buildings that mike capelli runs out of in his skivvies give 100%, or EVERYBODY dies.

John
John
13 years ago

A couple of points. First, changes in employment law over the years, as well as managerial practice in an environment where talent is increasingly scarce, have combined to deliver many of the same job protections (e.g., from unfair dismissal, harrasment, etc.) that in the past were one of the great benefits of union membership. On that score, the case for unions was greatly weakened. That left two other main arguments: (a) that unionization would result in higher levels of employee training and productivity for employers. However, the data supporting this argument is thin at best, and, more important, the unions want to capture, in higher wages, any resulting productivity gains. So there’s no benefit to the shareholders or taxpayers, as the case may be. Hence, we come to the last remaining argument — hanging together to extract more value, which logically must come from either customers (if they will stand for higher prices) or shareholders/taxpayers (if they will stand for lower returns or higher taxes). In a world of globalized markets for goods, services, capital and labor, this argument doesn’t work very well in the private sector anymore, with the exception, perhaps, of service jobs that require in-person deliver (but even there immigration, legal or illegal, is undermining the unionn cause). Where this argument still does work is the public sector, which is why unionized public sector employees have become a privileged caste increasingly resented by the people who pay for their wages and benefits. Rhode Island is just a particularly egregious and excruciating example of this larger trend. Final point: if, as Michael asserts, unionized city workers are just earning fair compensation for the work they do, then you would expect to see about the same level of turnover in those jobs, and applicants for them, as you do… Read more »

Greg
Greg
13 years ago

EMT,
I hear all of that about Emergency Services and I agree and believe they should be well compensated and protected. But that same protection makes no sense when extended to the clerk at the DMV.
One size does not fit all.

EMT
EMT
13 years ago

“However, the simple reality is that the “retire at 41 with full pension, COLA’s and gold plated free family medical for life” is bizare and unsustainable.”
Ok, I’ll bite. How long should someone who gets on the job in their early 20s be required to run into burning buildings, hazardous materials sites, crime scenes, crack houses, and crumpled cars or with others whizzing by at 80 before they’re allowed to retire?
What’s the biggest on-the-job risk you face, a papercut?
I guess it all depends what your priorities are- public safety personnel young enough and healthy enough to do the job, or a bunch of guys eligible for Medicare with multiple health issues and nagging injuries that are only on the job because of tight-fisted citizens who can’t see beyond their own small world and what’s in it for them.
I mean, who do you want coming to get you when you’re hanging out the window being chased by fire?
Oh, that’s right. “It’ll never happen to me.”

michael
michael
13 years ago

“Final point: if, as Michael asserts, unionized city workers are just earning fair compensation for the work they do, then you would expect to see about the same level of turnover in those jobs, and applicants for them, as you do in comparable private sector situations. However, as anybody who has lived in Rhode Island for more than two weeks can attest, people here go to extraordinary lengths to get those jobs — e.g., “I know a guy” or “My Rep has an in there.” So the actual behavior observed in the job market undermines the validity of Michael’s assertion.”
The City of Providence advertised for firefighters. Over 2000 people applied. The reason so many applied is because being a firefighter is the greatest job in the world, and not only because of the pay and benefits. I was one of 65 to be accepted into the 42nd training academy in 1991. The city offered good pay and benefits, going so far as to put the excellent benefits into the help wanted ad. These were the conditions of employment given by the city, not demanded by me. I wasn’t a member of any union, nor did I “know a guy.”
Am I wrong to expect the city to honor their commitment? I entered into a mortgage agreement and don’t expect the bank to accept lesser terms should I lose overtime or pay more for retirement and healthcare. I won’t get a break at Ruby Tuesdays because I’ve mismanaged my checkbook. My investment advisor won’t take less of a percentage because I’ve fallen on hard times. I would expect nothing less. I honor my commitments. Nothing invalidated.

Mike Cappelli
Mike Cappelli
13 years ago

michael,
“the reason so many applied is because being a firefighter is the greatest job in the world, and not only because of the pay and benefits.” WRONG!
It is the biggest SCAM in the world. And you just proved it by telling us how many want to do it. We could spend ONE HALF the money and get the same results as what we pay due to your stinking lousy unions.
Furthermore, just what makes you think that you should be immune to any of the uncertainties in life that those who pay you have to deal with. You talk like a tough guy, doing a job nobody wants to do, then tell us how many THOUSANDS WANT to do the job. What’s the matter, are you afraid of those big bad taxpayers?
It just shows what a bunch of liars you union pigs are. Get you talking and you just trip over yourselves, proving what hypocrites you are.

John
John
13 years ago

Michael,
Like it or not, commitments are broken all the time. That is what bankruptcy is all about. That is what the restructuring of the US Social Security System has been all about (e.g., raising the retirement age). That is what the great rush to find a way to bail out subprime mortgages is all about. That is what the U.S. inflating down the real value of the debt piled up by years of current account deficits is all about. That is what cuts in state and town budgets are all about. That is what tax increases are all about. While we all hope that those with whom we enter into commitments will abide by them, the plain truth is that circumstances sometimes make that impossible. So we have evolved mechanisms in multiple areas of society to adjust commitments to a more manageable level, while putting in place other mechanisms to discourage their overuse (something that, judging from your writing, we could sorely use when it comes to overuse of our Rescue Squads and ERs…).

Chalkdust
Chalkdust
13 years ago

Michael,
I would like to express my gratitude to you and your colleagues for the work you do to protect us.
There is plenty of room for disagreement on issues of contracts and so on, but there is no justification, and no excuse, for the abuse you are getting from Mike Cappelli and, to a lesser extent, John, who asserts that you got your job because of who you know, and Tim, who wants you to “stay out of his wallet”. I hope you never have to save his life, or that of people he cares about.
I’m not saying Michael is right about everything, but the treatment he’s getting here is indecent.

Mike
Mike
13 years ago

I wasn’t a member of any union, nor did I “know a guy.”
XXXXXX
Then that makes you one of the VERY few. I believe every male member of the Day, Patterson and Glancy families has been on the Prov. police or fire payrolls since they got off the boat from Dublin. Quite a “coincidence” of merit. LOL.

Justin Katz
13 years ago

Mike Cappelli:
I’ve got to say that you’re pushing the line. I don’t think Michael and EMT are liars. I think they’ve got some incorrect beliefs, and I think that they’re to close to the current culture to understand where they’re going wrong, but these are the sorts of people whom we must try to persuade, not to drive back into the think-alike of union company. You were making a valid point; there’s no purpose to making it easy for your opponents to dismiss you.
On the other hand, EMT:
“tight-fisted citizens”
I like that. I’ll be sure to bring it to mind when I’m forced to put my house on the (depressed) market this summer.
Got a clue, yet, why folks are getting increasingly irate at the unions?

Justin Katz
13 years ago

Michael.
Respectfully: My dinner table and children’s doctor bills trump your retirement. Sorry. It’s gotta be that way.

Jay
Jay
13 years ago

Hey guys well to start off I am a Providence police officer so I’m sure I’ll catch some hell but I’ve taken much worse on the streets. First thanks chalkdust but that’s the thing about police and fire no matter what someone says or does we’ll always be there to help them. Please don’t mistake this as looking for sympathy it’s what I love to do and wouldn’t have it any other way. Second the same politicians who negotiate and approve our contracts are the first to say they are unfair. If you don’t care for the way your politicians are doing things vote them out. Third we are always hiring or some other department or fire department come try out if we get such a great deal why aren’t you trying to get on the job. It’s not easy but it’s worth it and not just pay and benefits you’d be surprised how good you feel helping someone even someone like Mike Cappelli, yes I would do everything in my power to help you no matter what you say about me so give me your best I can take it.

EMT
EMT
13 years ago

“I think they’ve got some incorrect beliefs, and I think that they’re to close to the current culture to understand where they’re going wrong,” Since, for the 234534234th time, I am not a union member or a firefighter, I’m not sure how much further removed I could be. The only thing I have in common with michael besides ethnicity is we both work on ambulances in the city of Providence, and we both realize that Providence firefighters would all be on food stamps if it was up to Mike Capelli. “On the other hand, EMT: “tight-fisted citizens” I like that. I’ll be sure to bring it to mind when I’m forced to put my house on the (depressed) market this summer.” Are you trying to say that the likes of the posters here would pay firefighters something other than minimum wage if they were in charge? Or are you asserting that what michael makes somehow affects the housing market? I don’t understand. Is it not enough that the furniture these guys sit on (when they’re actually in the station, which isn’t much) were paid for out of their own pockets, or in some cases savaged from dumpsters? The nickel and diming is real. “We could spend ONE HALF the money and get the same results as what we pay due to your stinking lousy unions.” One half of what a rookie firefighter makes in Providence is somewhere south of $20k. Probably more like 15. Real nice. “Then that makes you one of the VERY few. I believe every male member of the Day, Patterson and Glancy families has been on the Prov. police or fire payrolls since they got off the boat from Dublin. Quite a “coincidence” of merit. LOL.” Then take it up with them or the administrations that… Read more »

EMT
EMT
13 years ago

Well, as you’ve told us numerous times Justin, you can always get another job!
And if you think a 65 year old guy with 40 years of sucking smoke can do the job safely, well, hope you like funerals, because they’ll sure as hell be more of them. Citizens and firefighters both.

Justin Katz
13 years ago

I said “current culture,” EMT. Ipso facto.
I don’t know what “the likes of the posters here” would pay firefighters.” I do know that the people whom you mean wouldn’t be the only voices in a society attempting to come up with fair salaries. I assumed that you understood such a simple principle, which is why I imagined myself to be included among your “tight-fisted citizens,” which is why I took exception. My fist’s only tight to the extent that there’s nothing in it.
Or is it my due to feed my family using food stamps?
As for furniture, workers supplying their own accommodations in such a setting is hardly unique. Tell you what: the construction company for which I work just upgraded to a client’s discarded couch from the station-wagon back seat that used to be our accommodations. I’ll keep an eye out for another couch if the Providence FD needs one. Heck, I’ve got an unused couch in my garage to which they’re welcome.

Jay
Jay
13 years ago

“Then that makes you one of the VERY few. I believe every male member of the Day, Patterson and Glancy families has been on the Prov. police or fire payrolls since they got off the boat from Dublin. Quite a “coincidence” of merit. LOL.”
Is it also a coincidence that doctors sons and daughters are doctors? or teachers sons and daughters are teachers? Seems to me many children follow in their parents footsteps….No my father was not on the job I am first generation Prov police if I have a son or daughter someday I would be proud if they wanted to follow in my footsteps. As far as the families you mentioned their fathers and grandfathers became police and fire when no one wanted the job talk to some old timers who were on the job in the fifties, sixties, and seventies find out how much they made and how they were treated, just might open your eyes.

Justin Katz
13 years ago

… if you think a 65 year old guy with 40 years of sucking smoke can do the job safely, well, hope you like funerals, because they’ll sure as hell be more of them.

That’s not what I said.
Scenario 1: Michael explained in the comments to a previous post that Paul Doughty had been shifted to a sort of human resources position and his active position left vacant, to be filled with overtime. Why is such a young, capable man as Mr. Doughty being pulled off the engine for an HR job, which a 65 year old could do?
Scenario 2: Firefighters (who appear to have a more limited set of career path options than, say, police officers) could have a “useful tenure” limit, at which they’d be free to find another career (and I wouldn’t be opposed to assistance with the preparation and search), with a one-time nest-egg payment, probably deposited into a 401k-type account.
But again, y’all don’t seem to want to open the door to any suggestions in response to the problems that you note, except the lifetime guaranteed benefits route.

Tom Kenney
13 years ago

Mr. Cappelli, Mr. Katz and all of you other ignorant (in the uninformed manner) should open your eyes to what’s really going on around us. You think that all public sector union employees are “feasting” off the taxpayers!!?? In Providence, you should look at City Hall. Mr. Simmons (who just left with a bigger part of “my” pension than I’ll ever see) and the Mayor’s elite inner staff (including the Police Chief & the Fire Chief) are gaining raises at enormous clips (37% at one point) while all other non-union city employees are getting laid off, hours and wages cut, health care plans changed and retirement plans revoked. Does that make the union employees the bad guys – or the city administration? I say that Mr. Simmons is taking from “my” pension because I’m a Providence Firefighter. I’ve been one for 27 years and I won’t be able to afford to retire until I reach 32 years – I’ll be 57 years old with 32 years of sucking up smoke, toxins (including cyanide), and carcinogens behind me. I’ll come looking for you when I need help landing a 2nd career. lol These are ordinary working conditions for Providence Firefighters. I will bet my life on the fact that none of you giving all this crap to Michael would be capable of doing his or my job. It really is that simple. After 27 years on the job (and 47 years living in Providence) I am still struggling to pay my bills and provide for my wife and kids and grandkids. I know that many working people out there do also (and I’m pretty sure that Mr. Cappelli and Mr. Katz are not among them). I’m not stating this to show that I’ve got it bad, but rather to point out… Read more »

EMT
EMT
13 years ago

“Why is such a young, capable man as Mr. Doughty being pulled off the engine for an HR job, which a 65 year old could do?”
Excellent question- ask the department. They pulled him.

Tom Kenney
13 years ago

Because Mr. Doughty was qualified for such a position AND he was going to be tied up on union business on a regular basis. You have to remember that we haven’t had a current contract since prior to Mr. Doughty becoming president. He hasn’t been serving during a quiet time in our union’s history – it’s been a struggle since his first day in office.

John
John
13 years ago

Why do you never hear Marines complaining as much as unionized public safety employees in Rhode Island?

Chalkdust
Chalkdust
13 years ago

John,
OOOH! I know this one!!!
Because you don’t hear a lot of people calling Marines “pigs” and “whores”.
What do I win?

John
John
13 years ago

Chalk,
Go hang around the Poverty Institute for a day, and revel in the respect shown there for men and women in (military) uniforms…

Andrew
Editor
13 years ago

Tom,
For the record, Marc posted an item critical of the Simmons pension, nearly as soon as the news was made public. And if you scroll through the comments to this post, you’ll find me suggesting that the Simmons pension is a problem (while a commenter who is generally sympathetic to the left position on issues says, by the way, that Simmons’ pension is irrelevant to anything).
So you can rest assured that for many of us on the right, the issue is about being fiscally sensible, no matter who is receiving the $$$.

Tom Kenney
13 years ago

Andrew,
That type of system would work fine for me if I was 22 years old and beginning my career. I’m 52 years old and near the end of my usefullness as a firefighter due to numerous physical injuries and prolonged exposures to toxins and smoke. I have to work within the system we’ve got. Also, I’ve worked my entire career planning my retirement on the system that’s been in place long before I started working for the PFD and now (just before I retire) people want to revamp the whole system. I have to be honest – at this point all I care about is being able to adequately care for my family. I am not going to be retiring with a “Golden Parachute”.
Also, when discussing the Providence Firefighters keep in mind that we have not been demanding unreasonable increases in compensation or benefits. We have been attempting to protect some of those benefits which we’ve foregone pay raises in the past to acquire. Most of all, however, we’ve been fighting to keep the mayor and the Chief from cutting the staffing of fire apparatus in this city. This is a health & safety issue for the firefighters and the citizens of this city.
Any attempt to portray us as “greedy” or “leeches” is totally inaccurate and totally without merit. This type of talk comes from people who are ignorant opf our (Providence Firefighters) situation.

Mike Cappelli
Mike Cappelli
13 years ago

You know Tom, you sound like you could be a reasonable guy. But, I’ve got to say when you continue to support, ad nauseum, the nonsense that goes on in your fire department union you are part of the problem.
Let’s take for instance, the issue of your union president; the taxpayers are paying him and he doesn’t do the job we pay him to do. AND, what he does do, is to perform services that work to extract MORE money from us. THen, we pay him overtime to do the job he should be doing from the start.
Now I don’t care how you, or anybody like you, want to try and rationalize this. No matter what you say, IT IS PATENTLY WRONG AND UNFAIR. When I hear people in your union strain credulity and attempt to justify this nonsense, I get very, very mad – as would you, if you had to pay somebody whose function was to cost you more money.
And that Tom, is why I get so mad, that I feel perfectly entitled to call you guys all kinds of nasty things. I don’t rationalize with you or respect you – because you do not respect us!

Tom Kenney
13 years ago

I do not respect you (presumably you’re refering to the taxpayers?)??? I respect you just fine. I respect evry single resident of Providence just fine – whether taxpayers or illegals or just passing through our fine city. I have (on more occassions than you can EVER imagine) placed my life squarely on the line for many of them and will do so in the future – no matter who they are, who they like or dislike, or what their politics are. And I’m not talking this “we put our lives on the line every time we go out the door” crap, I’m talking about entering a fire building that is a potential death trap for me, but certainly a death trap for any civilian still in the building. It’s my job, and in Providence we fight more building fires than anywhere else in New England with the exception of Boston. If I want to “talk the talk” I have to “walk the walk”. I and my brothers in Providence “walk the walk”. As for Mr. Doughty doing wrong, he is just doing his job as our Union President in the manner that most all public safety union presidents have done for years, it’s part of the past practices. Look at other cities’ police and fire union presidents and you’ll see the same thing – just as Chief Farrell did when he was our union President. Should that be changed? Maybe, but I can tell you that he’s not “attempting to take more money from your pockets” during this time off. Most of the time is spent fighting grievences that have arrived via a breech of contract by the city – you know, the city that you would have us trust without union representation. They knowingly breech their written and rattified… Read more »

michael
michael
13 years ago

All I know is this; if you don’t like the way things are, work toward changing them. Run for office. Help a candidate. Do something.
If your comments and opinions are based on jealosy, keep an eye on the help wanted section of the Providence Journal, get in shape, do a little studying and apply for the job you are so covetous of. If you are too old or infirm, find something else to do. Quit complaining about what you want and focus on what you have. Endless opportunity exists in the private sector that is so glorified here. Go get it.

Mike Cappelli
Mike Cappelli
13 years ago

It really is amazing to me just how brainwashed that people can become. Tom, has your union ever told you that there are FAR MORE people that are NOT in unions than are IN unions. Do they allow you to think for yourself? Listening to you, anyone not in a union would all be unemployed, have lost limbs, or wear chains at work.
Talk about making people laugh, just listen to yourselves. You guys trip all over yourself when you get off your stupid spoonfed union talking points. ie. you talk like tough guys doing a job nobody else can do, then tell us how many thousands apply for the job. You talk like tough guys, and then tell us you’re such lambs you need that union to protect your butts. You talk like tough guys, and then go on to tell us how you couldn’t survive in the real world without your contract and all the guarantees. Doesn’t quite fit my definition of a tough guy Tommy
Furthermore, if the best you can do to rationalize someone RIPPING OFF THE TAXPAYERS is saying “it’s done all the time”, you deserve a whack in the head like I’d give my son if he ever pulled that crap on me.
What a loser mentality!

michael
michael
13 years ago

I think Mike Capelli just about finished this thread. Going nowhere.

Mike Cappelli
Mike Cappelli
13 years ago

Yeah, michael, can you tell how moved I was with your life story.
I’m happy to finish the next one, too.

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