The Commonwealth Employment Relations Board (CERB), the state agency that is the ultimate authority about the public sector collective bargaining law, found that the City of Boston violated the law when it unilaterally implemented a new mediation policy for citizen complaints against police officers. Patrick Bryant represented the Boston Police Superior Officers Federation (Federation) throughout bargaining and litigation. CERB ordered the City to rescind the policy as to patrol officers represented by the Boston Police Patrolmen's Association, Inc.
A neutral arbitrator has reversed the City of Holyoke's retaliatory demotion and five-day suspension of former Holyoke Fire President Chad Cunningham. Attorney Terence (Terry) Coles aggressively represented IAFF Local 1693 throughout this matter.
Employers should educate employees about changes in policies or practices, especially those policies that allow employers to exercise discretion. That's the standard principle cited by a neutral arbitrator in ruling that the Town of Barre, VT violated its collective bargaining agreement covering Emergency Medical Services employees. Attorneys Leah Barrault and Mark Macchi successfully represented Local 3702, IAFF, AFL-CIO/CLC, which is a member of Professional Fire Fighters of Vermont.
More than 3.5 years after being unjustly terminated by the Town of Winthrop, former police Union President Ferruccio Romeo may finally be receiving justice. Thanks to Attorney Patrick Bryant, the Supreme Judicial Court rejected Winthrop's last-ditch effort to derail an arbitration decision ordering his reinstatement. The Town now owes Romeo 3.5 years of lost wages, details and overtime, and other benefits he missed.
Today the U.S. Supreme Court issued its decision in the Janus v. AFSCME case ruling that public sector employees cannot be required to pay an agency fee to a public sector union. However, the decision does not impact the rights of a public sector union to act as the exclusive bargaining representative of all employees in the bargaining unit OR the requirement for the union to fairly represent all employees in the bargaining unit.
Attorney Tod Cochran represented UFCW Local 791 in the Union's successful challenge to a new Shaw's attendance policy imposed employees at the Methuen warehouse. For years, employees who had perfect attendance for 60 days received a benefit or "free pass" for their next violation. Shaw's changed that policy, a change upheld by a different arbitrator. This change specifically stated that after 60 days of perfect attendance, the employee's oldest violation is removed from their personnel record.
For the past year, the Town of Oak Bluffs, including its Town Manager and Fire Chief*, have waged a vicious anti-union campaign to retaliate against the Fire Fighters/EMTs organized to join the International Association of Fire Fighters (IAFF). In November, the Department of Labor Relations, which administers state collective bargaining law, issued a complaint itemizing 11 counts of Unfair Labor Practices by the Town, and then another complaint with two more counts.
Most collective bargaining agreements provide that an arbitrator's resolution of a grievance is "final and binding." That means the parties accept the decision, even if they think it wrong, illogical or contradicted by the facts. Many Massachusetts public employers disregard that language when confronted with an arbitration decision they dislike.
The 24-Hour Shift/42-hour work week is the norm for fire departments in Massachusetts, much as the 4&2/37.5-hour work week is for police departments. But for years, the Town of Seekonk refused to even consider the schedule worked by fire crews all across the Commonwealth. That all changed when Attorney Leah Barrault, assisted by Attorney Mark Macchi, persuaded an arbitration panel including PFFM District Vice President Matt Reddy, that a 24-hour shift is merited, can boost morale, safety and fatigue recovery. All these benefits can be achieved without additional cost to the Town.
A neutral arbitration panel issued a historic decision that requires Town of Chelmsford to increase staffing on fire calls recently at one of its five fire stations. Attorney Leah Barrault represented Chelmsford Fire Fighters, Local 1839 IAFF at the hearing, and introduced evidence demonstrating the safety risk posed to residents and firefighters by the Town's practice on responding to fire calls. Arbitration awards that increase fire station staffing are few and far between.