While we at Local 1347 appreciate your many contributions to bettering our community and applaud your stance in supporting your choice of candidates for Town Council we take great exception to the fact that you chose to attack our members in the process.
(See John Airasian’s letter by clicking here)
Your complete lack of knowledge or understanding of the events that led to the 6.5 year impasse between the Town and the Local is evident in your commentary. That you have chosen to insult us in defense of those councilors who chose to thumb their noses at a state mandated resolution process is the ultimate sign of desperation by you on their behalf.
In your letter you state the local enjoyed “some support” in town. If you consider the several hundred lawn signs proudly displayed throughout town “some support” your candidates should hope for the same “some support.” To say that we were pleased with the “some support” you referenced is an understatement and it was that very support that emboldened us to continue our fight for fairness.
Your letter raises the issue of fairness and we’re glad you did. Long before the JLMC proceedings, we agreed to the same base wage increases as all the other unions. It is important to note that we did not enter the arbitration process seeking more than that, ever.
It was the Town that wanted our members to forfeit our sick leave buyback benefit. A benefit bargained into our collective bargaining agreement long ago and in good faith with the Town. Therefore, to remove it from the agreement it needed to be bargained for and when the Town continued to undervalue the benefit we fought for our rights to fairness even asking that the issue be removed from bargaining in order to move on from the obvious impasse. Yet the Town insisted that we forfeit it.
You incorrectly claim we asked for more but we never asked for more than the other unions, who were not being asked to give up anything coming close to this benefit but we certainly weren’t going to take less than what was fair for it. Additionally, as a precursor to the coming ALS program, over the years we began a steady progression in additional life saving BLS skills, skills that were not part of our job description, not mandatory for BLS systems and certainly never bargained for. We did this in good faith, working with the Chief with the hopes that it would facilitate the ALS program while helping save lives at the same time.
While we were recognized by many, including federal officials, for some of these efforts (one of the first fire based systems to deploy Narcan on all fire apparatus) the Town chose to ignore this at the bargaining table despite their strong desire to move to a fire based ALS program. However, the neutral arbitration panel saw fit to recognize this in its award.
Apparently you and your “credible” source in Jeff Jacoby, feel arbitrators acknowledging facts is somehow unfair. Jacoby, the conservative Globe columnist who doesn’t believe in global warming, is anti-recycling (Get excited about recycling? Not me – By Jeff Jacoby Globe Columnist / September 19, 2010) and doesn’t believe bicyclists belong on our roads (Urban Roads Aren’t Meant for Bicycles – By Jeff Jacoby Globe Columnist / September 2, 2015) astutely recognizes that “arbitrators will never come back with less than what the government has already put on the table.” Well Jeff, the opposite is also true, arbitrators will also not give the union more than they’re asking for.
But who’s interests are best served by bargaining to impasse, when one group cannot strike or take any meaningful job action, then engage in a process deigned to produce an equitable resolution but can be rejected by only one of the parties? As for your mischaracterization of Local 1347 as a “special interest group,” well, let’s just quote the President of the United States, Barack Obama, on the issue you raised:
“They’re out there. They’re out there talking about you like your some special interest that needs to be beaten down,” Obama said at the UAW’s National Community Action Program Legislative Conference in Washington, D.C. “Since when are hard-working men and women who are putting in a hard day’s work every day, since when are they special interests?”
Glaringly omitted from your endorsement is Councilor Tony Palomba. Your candidates claim we are lining up single isue candidates to replace them in November, a false charge for sure, yet you, and by extension them, have chosen to black ball Councilor Palomba despite his track record of hard work in addressing social service shortfalls here in Town simply as a result of his stance, which of the nine councilors was the most courageous. Councilor Palomba understands the importance of fair collective bargaining as well as the arbitration process, the only fair resolution process available to public safety employees. It begs the question, why no endorsement for Councilor Palomba?
With all due respect, we are happy to look forward to working together with the Town’s administration. At this point, there really is nothing more to be said and I thought long and hard about even responding however, we will never sit on our hands when unfairly attacked as you have done here. We remain committed to serving the community and working with the Town’s administration in putting this impasse where it belongs, in the past.
Rob Mannix, President
IAFF Local 1347