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.
In order to better serve Pyle Rome's large and growing base of union clients throughout New England and to provide more complete representation to unions and their employee members, Pyle Rome Attorney Jill Ryan recently obtained her license to practice law in Connecticut. Attorney Ryan will continue to focus her practice exclusively on the rights of workers in Massachusetts, Connecticut and across New England. Attorney Ryan was sworn in to practice at the Connecticut Supreme Court on April 30, 2018.
On March 29, 2018, the Hampden County Retirement Board rejected the Town of Longmeadow's effort to involuntarily retire a firefighter in a cowardly attempt to avoid the collective bargaining agreement’s just cause requirement for discharge. Pyle Rome partner Jim Hykel represented the employee.
Attorney Patrick Bryant persuaded a neutral arbitrator to cut eight-shift discipline in half for one Seekonk fire fighter and to reduce it to a reprimand for another fire fighter.
The Massachusetts Court of Appeals has become the second court to affirm an arbitration award supporting SEIU Local 509's arbitration victory in favor of a probationary teacher. Attorney Patrick Bryant represented Local 509 and its bargaining unit at the Collaborative for Educational Services throughout this process.
A hearing officer with the Commonwealth's Department of Labor Relations has ruled that managers at the State’s MassHealth Office in Taunton violated the law by threatening employees who criticized supervisors. Attorney Jim Hykel represented SEIU Local 509 throughout the proceedings. Pyle Rome partner Kate Shea is the General Counsel of Local 509.
In the first few months of 2018, Pyle Rome attorneys have assisted UFCW, Local 1445 in overturning three separate discharge decisions at Stop & Shop. Pyle Rome attorney Al Gordon O'Connell is the General Counsel of Local 1445, and his partners Tod Cochran and Ian Russell handled the cases at arbitration.