On December 20, 2021, Mayor Michelle Wu and the City of Boston announced a new policy requiring that all city employees verify COVID-19 vaccination as of January 15 or face discipline, up to and including termination. The Boston Police Superior Officers Federation, represented by Attorney Patrick Bryant, immediately filed a demand to bargain, as did unions representing police detectives and firefighters. At least 83 percent of sworn supervisors represented by the Federation are vaccinated.
A nearly 40-year dispute about the minimum detail rates applicable to Boston Police Supervisors finally was resolved by a neutral arbitrator. The 1979-1981 collective bargaining agreement between the City of Boston and the Boston Police Superior Officers Federation set forth hourly rates for when outside parties hire police to work details, with different rates for Sergeants, Lieutenants and Captains.
On October 21, 2021, a neutral arbitrator ordered Eversource to cease and desist from assigning contractors to perform critical valve replacement work that had traditionally been performed by bargaining unit employees. Pyle Rome attorney Al Gordon O'Connell represented USW Local 12004 in the successful arbitration case.
The National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) recommends that a company of at least four personnel respond to a fire alarm. Many public employers unfortunately staff their front-line apparatus, such as engines and ladders, with much less. The Town of Scituate went to the lowest possible level in 2018 when it reduced staffing on Engine-1 to a single firefighter.
A hearing officer of the Massachusetts Department of Labor Relations agreed with the New Bedford Firefighters, Local 841, IAFF, that the City of New Bedford unlawfully decommissioned Engine 11 without first bargaining to impasse or resolution about the impacts of this decision. The City did not appeal this decision.
On August 31, 2021, a neutral arbitrator reversed the discharge of a Berklee College of Music faculty member with a more-than-30-year unblemished teaching career who was wrongly accused of sexual harassment in a shocking rush to judgment by the College’s Equity Office. Pyle Rome attorney Al Gordon O’Connell represented the Faculty Union at hearing, with partner Patrick Bryant collaborating on the Union’s brief.
In a case involving a controversial promotion of the current Everett Fire Chief, the Commonwealth Employment Relations Board (CERB) confirmed for the first time that public employers have a duty to bargain about certain decisions prior to administering a promotion for public safety executives. Attorney Patrick N. Bryant represented Everett Firefighters Local 143, IAFF in this proceeding. This is the first major decision to set forth bargaining obligations related to Chief promotions.
Many workers have been whipsawed by a pandemic. Those fortunate enough to have continued employment may find themselves at increase exposure to the health emergency directly and indirectly. These essential workers include school bus drivers whose job requires that they interact with many individuals, including co-workers, students, and parents. And, when these same workers, laboring under increased hazards, are exposed to a deadly virus, some employers cruelly respond with an unpaid suspension.
On June 1, an arbitrator ruled in favor of UFCW, Local 1445 that a St. Vincent Hospital employee should be reinstated due to the Hospital's failure to follow its own progressive discipline policy. Pyle Rome partner Terry Coles represented the Union in the successful arbitration.
The Boston Police Superior Officers Federation collective bargaining agreement requires that the City of Boston distribute detail assignments first amongst the supervisors who work in the area of the assignment. The City followed this protocol during the contentious National Grid Strike/Lockout of 2018.