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.
On May 20, 2021, the Bristol Count Superior Court upheld an arbitration decision on behalf of USW, Local 9517 against the Town of Seekonk. Pyle Rome attorney Al Gordon O'Connell represented the Union at arbitration and in Court. Since a Court's power to overturn an arbitration award is "extremely limited," the Court's ruling is not surprising, but is certainly reassuring for unions representing municipal employees that state courts will not allow municipal employers to evade their contractual obligations.
On May 17, a neutral arbitrator ordered UMass Memorial Medical Center (UMMMC) to stop using contractors to perform certain food-service work in hospital cafeterias. The case was brought by UFCW, Local 1445, which represents the UMass Memorial workers. Pyle Rome partner Terry Coles represented the Union in the matter and secured the victory.
On April 22, 2021, a neutral arbitrator ordered Macy's to stop using its "Scan and Pay" mobile app in store departments where unionized workers earn commissions for their sales. The case was brought by UFCW, Local 1445 on behalf of represented employees in Boston, Braintree, Natick, Peabody, and Saugus, Mass. and in Warwick, Rhode Island. Pyle Rome attorney Alex Robertson represented the Union in the case.