State Labor Agency Rules, As Urged By Attorney Ryan, That City of Boston Unlawfully Reduced Vacation Leave for SENA-represented employees

September 6, 2019

The City of Boston and SENA
negotiated a new policy that reduced how much vacation leave is accrued when employees are on certain types of paid or unpaid medical leave for at least 12 weeks. However, a few years later, the City unilaterally decided to count all absences, including vacations, personal time and suspensions, toward this threshold.

Attorney Jillian M. Ryan, assisted by the testimony of Attorney Alfred Gordon O'Connell who negotiated the contract on behalf of SENA, persuaded the Department of Labor Relations that the City's change was unlawful. SENA alleged that the City's change in an established policy violated its statutory duty to bargain in good faith. The Hearing Officer agreed. He ruled that the City's inclusion of non-medical leave absences in determining vacation leave accrual violated the contract's clear language. In addition to agreeing with the Union's charge, the Hearing Officer then rejected legal defenses raised by the City to evade liability. The Hearing Officer ordered the City to remedy its unlawful act by rescinding the change to vacation leave accrual for SENA-represented employees.