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In Rare Move, Boston Sends Police Negotiations Dispute To State For Resolution
From The Boston Globe, February 24

BOSTON, MA - Hoping to move the city's most troublesome union dispute off his desk, Boston Mayor Thomas M. Menino has persuaded a state board to take over the city's stalled contract talks with the Boston Police Patrolmen's Association.

In a rare move, city officials declared an impasse with the police union and asked the state's Joint Labor-Management Committee to take over negotiations, which have languished since November. Earlier this month, the state committee agreed.

While it is traditionally labor, not management, that seeks the help of the 14-member committee, the police union opposed the move. "It's outrageous," said the union's president Thomas J. Nee. "How can you declare impasse when you haven't dealt with the issues at the table?"

City officials said they appealed to the panel, appointed by the governor, when they became convinced that the patrolmen's union had no desire to settle a contract before the July convention. Union specialists said the committee could take several months or longer to reach a decision.

"It was very, very obvious they were playing a delaying game, saying one thing publicly and doing another thing at the table," said Dennis DiMarzio, the city's chief operating officer. "When one party comes to the table and makes outrageous demands, they're obviously trying to delay the process, so it will get close to the convention, in the hope that the pressure will cause the mayor to spend money he doesn't think he can spend."

But union leaders accused the mayor of moving to wash his hands of the labor dispute before the prounion Democrats come to town. "He's trying to avoid his responsibility and get us out of the way politically," Nee said. "He's trying to answer his critics and frame us as unreasonable. He thinks he can silence and neutralize us by saying: `They're in arbitration. It's not my decision.'

"If we don't have a contract by the convention, we'll be out there in force," he said.

The patrolmen's union contract is one of 32 with the city that have not been settled. All the unions have vowed to picket the convention if their contracts are not resolved. They have started an e-mail campaign to Democratic leaders, asking them to help settle the contracts before July.

Each side accused the other of failing to negotiate in good faith. According to DiMarzio, the police union is looking for increases of nearly 25 percent over four years. He would not detail the city's offer.

Nee said the union is seeking parity with the firefighters, whose base pay is $64,500, nearly $10,000 higher than patrolmen's. Closing the gap would mean pay raises for police of roughly 18 percent over three years.

Nee called the city's offer paltry and offered a different description than the one provided by DiMarzo. Nee said the city is offering no pay raises during the first 2 1/2 years, a 1 percent increase in the last six months of the third year, and a 1 1/2 or 2 percent increase in the fourth year. During the first 2 1/2 years, members would receive bonuses totalling $2,500, he said.

The labor-management committee, made up of union and labor representatives, is empowered to settle contracts for the state's police officers and firefighters.

The committee can conduct mediation sessions, collect facts, and work with the sides to reach agreement. If the process is unsuccessful, the committee may send the case to arbitration, which is binding on the parties. The committee cannot, however, force the appropriating authority, in this case the Boston City Council, to fund the agreement.

The panel can consider many factors, including a city or town's ability to pay. While city officials have argued they cannot afford lavish raises, the police union has contended the city is hiding reserves that could be used to finance a generous contract.

"If the patrolmen's union is so convinced their financial analysis of the city's books is correct, why wouldn't they rush to an arbitrator?" said DiMarzio. "It's an obvious contradiction."

But if city officials were hoping to settle the police contract before the convention, turning it over to the labor-management committee will dim its prospects.

The committee often considers a case for eight months or longer before sending it to arbitration, according to lawyers who have appeared before the board. Most cases, however, never make it to arbitration.

"The committee firmly believes it is in the best interest of the parties to reach a voluntary settlement," said Jim Costello, a committee member. "In the interest of long-term relations, most times I encourage unions to consider sitting down and reaching a settlement."

Of 1,600 cases handled since 1988, he said, 160 ended up in arbitration
 

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Good luck to them. They should actually be going after their State Representatives for allowing such financial mismanagement that is affecting every community across the Commonwealth. The "Big Dig" is over a Billion dollars, that's a capital "B", over budget. The cost is still out of control due to flawed design plans. I can think of better ways to spend that Billion dollars, as I'm sure many members of this board can. Becthel, Halliburton, and others just to name of few are making a killing on this deal. The A.G.'s office will only be able to recover a fraction of the amount "wasted". Just a sad state of affairs...no accountability.
 

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menino and the rest of the democ rats are sweating that the BPD will picket the democ rat convention (aka - invasion of the liberals).
i hope they do. i LOVED it when the Springfield Police did it a few years ago. the democ rats try to fool us, but they will never be truly on our side. look at the facts of who goes after the quinn bill, what politicians whine about us the most, etc. bring on the pickets and show the nation what hypocrites the liberal democ rats are. real men and people who think, always vote Republican. the democ rats also go after the police details - cohen, demarco, etc... but support the stiffs who try to make a career of welfare..............facts are facts
 

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It's amazing how when the city coffers were full, Menino was such a popular Mayor. The BPPA hits it on the head, Menino is pasing the buck early, letting someone else make the hard decision, that way he can blame any unhappiness w/the arbitrator.

Couple of ?s When did the disparity arise between BFD & BPD pay? Has it always been that way, or did BFD get a larger percentage increase after BPD got the Quinn bill with their last contract? If so, is the city trying to use a PO's potential (top step w/25%) compared to a FF's actual salary? That's just wrong - no offense to the red lights, but most of those guys have a family trade business on the side, and that potential is not included in the negotiations.
 

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Discussion Starter #6
Boston Police Union Leader Clarifies Strike Possibilities

Boston Police Union Leader Clarifies Strike Possibilities
From The Boston Globe, March 5

BOSTON, MA - The head of Boston's largest police union said yesterday that officers would go on strike "if necessary" but then quickly reversed himself and said he misspoke.

In an interview broadcast on WBZ radio (1030 AM), Thomas J. Nee, president of the Boston Police Patrolmen's Association, was asked whether his members would be willing to go on strike if their contract standoff with the city continues.

He replied: "If necessary, but it's apparent to us there's no willingness from the city to get this done."

After that story was broadcast, Nee called the station to say that he had misspoken. He noted that a police strike would break state law and added that members of the patrolmen's association remain committed to providing top-notch public safety services to all the city's residents.

"We have not threatened to strike, nor would we strike," Nee told the radio station. Later, Nee told the Globe, "We will never withhold service in any neighborhood of the city. It's never been considered, nor will it be done."

Mayor Thomas M. Menino said he took Nee at his word when he said he misspoke. Also, he accused union leaders of trying to make headlines instead of progress.

Strikes are illegal for public employees in Massachusetts. Nonetheless, city unions have occasionally used strikes to further their aims; in 1993, Boston teachers conducted a one-day strike to highlight stalled contract talks; they will vote Wednesday whether to take similar action this year.

A strike by public safety employees has not occurred in Boston since 1919, when more than 1,100 disgruntled patrolmen walked off the job.

The patrolmen's association has been the most vocal of the city unions working without contracts and has threatened to embarrass Menino in July at the Democratic National Convention.
 
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