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September 27, 2007
Carcieri, convention head criticize union picket plan
Governor Carcieri and the head of the Rhode Island Convention Center Authority are criticizing the Providence firefighters union for its plans to picket a statewide terrorism drill this weekend at the convention center.
The union's decision to picket the drill has prompted dozens of firefighters from other departments to say they won't participate.
Your turn: Are the firefighters justified in picketing a major, statewide drill?
Carcieri and David A. Duffy, chairman of the convention center authority's governing board, say they hope the union changes its plans and participates in the drill.
The drill, paid for in part by a $50,000 federal grant, will simulate a terrorist attack at the convention center that leaves hundreds of victims, requires 40 ambulances, and mobilizes seven hospitals to help.
Duffy said the threatened picket could force organizers to scale back, or even cancel, the drill.
Providence firefighters are embroiled in a protracted contract battle with the city. They say they plan an "informational demonstration" for disability benefits.
Carcieri says it's "unconscionable" for the union to even consider picketing the drill.
"In the wake of September 11th and The Station nightclub fire, Rhode Island has worked hard to improve the state’s ability to prevent and respond to emergencies,” Carcieri said in a statement issued this morning. “While we have upgraded our equipment and protocols, the most important thing we can do is drill, practice, and train. In that light, the statewide terrorism drill scheduled for Sunday is a critical part of our ability to protect Rhode Island citizens.”
At this morning's board meeting, Duffy said, "I don't see how this helps anyone. I don't see how this has anything to do with their contract."
"This benefits all the people of Rhode Island," Duffy said. "I hope that common sense will prevail."
Carcieri said he hopes the union does "the right thing" and fully participates in the drill.
-- With reports from Journal staff writers Amanda Milkovits and Benjamin Gedan
Posted by Jack Perry at 11:34 AM | Permalink
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