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NHLN Exclusive: Pittsfield Board Of Selectman Trample Labor Rights Of Town Employees

In Pittsfield, town employees have been under assault since the new Board of Selectmen was sworn into office in March. This small group of employees represented by two unions, Teamsters and AFT-NH are defending their collective bargaining rights in multiple cases filed with the New Hampshire Public Employee Labor Relations Board. The Teamsters Local #633 represents the police patrolman and AFT-NH represents a variety of town employees. As you may recall this is the same Board of Selectmen that thought it acceptable to issue a gag order on the free speech rights of public employees back in April and they finally rescinded the order after much public outcry.

The Concord Monitor reported last week that “The state labor relations board ruled the town of Pittsfield violated a contract with police officers by refusing to assign private details, one of several complaints town employees have against selectmen.

In a ruling issued on last Thursday, Douglas Ingersoll, Executive Director of the labor board, ordered the town to resume assigning detail work and reimburse officers for earnings they lost this year so far.”

This a big win for the patrol officers and Teamsters in the town. What is amazing that even though the Board of Selectmen has yet to acknowledge the upside for the taxpayers of Pittsfield. By refusing private details the town is losing thousands of dollars in absolutely free money.

“In 2011, the town received $80,000 in payments from private details, $47,000 of that going to the officers or to cover administrative costs of arranging the detail. The rest was revenue for the town.”

Just to make sure we are all on the same page. A private company like, PSNH or Fairpoint hires a police officer through the town.  Then the company pays the town, the cost of the officer and an additional amount that goes directly to the town’s bank account. For every detail the Pittsfield officer works, he gets extra money, and the town gets free money. It is a total win-win.  I don’t know why the selectmen would not be encouraging more details. As of today, the Town has yet to comply with the cease and desist order issued by the labor board and no details are being offered to the patrol officers.

That is not the only case against the Pittsfield Board of Selectmen.

AFT-NH, representing Pittsfield’s ambulance department employees, town workers, and police sergeants, filed another unfair labor practice in May alleging the town violated employees’ free speech rights, denial of details, unilateral change in schedule, bad faith bargaining and contractual rights to overtime. No decision by the PELRB has been issued yet.

AFT-NH informed the NH Labor News that there are three additional Unfair Labor Practices that have been filed as recently as yesterday. One ULP alleges another violation of the contract is that the Town has unilaterally decided employees can longer swap shifts, which has not cost to the Town. The second ULP defends the Police Chief, also a member of AFT-NH, against a verbal warning and unilateral changes to his schedule. The discipline was issued since the Board of Selectmen have been insistent he conduct an investigation into his police officers based on anonymous complaints of when and how the police officers had lunch breaks during the Pittsfield Balloon Rally., He concluded they performed their duties in accordance with their contract. The Selectmen are not happy with the answer and he was issued a verbal warning.

One case was heard last week. The main issue in that case is that the EMT’s allege that the selectmen are violating the collective bargaining agreement (CBA) by requiring a doctor’s note for missed work after one day.  AFT-NH filed an Unfair Labor Practice (ULP) on behalf of the employees. The current CBA says that employees do not have to supply a doctor’s note’ until after the fifth day.

The fact that their rights are being trampled by the town selectman was taken to heart by one EMT, Alyssa MacGlashing.  She felt so strongly about this ULP and her rights under the CBA that she came out to testify last Thursday.  Not only did she testify she brought her two week old baby with her.  That’s right, only two weeks after have a child she was before the PELRB defending her rights.

“It is the dedication from members like Alyssa, who are willing to appear and testify before the labor board just two weeks after having a baby. She knows she is defending the principles of fair play and honoring a collective bargaining agreement; this is just one of the many reasons I truly love my job and have a great respect for our members,” said Terri Donovan, legal counsel for AFT-NH.

Donovan did want to note that the town employees in Pittsfield are residents and taxpayers too and as such negotiated a recent contract that included no pay raises, no steps and increased contribution to health insurance.

“Our members stepped up to the plate and they have been slapped in the face by this Board of Selectmen,” stated Attorney Donovan.

Pittsfield EMT Alyssa MacGlashing

 

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About Matt Murray

Matt Murray is the creator and an author on the NH Labor News. He is a union member and advocate for labor and progressive politics. He also works with other unions and members to help spread our message. Follow him on Twitter @NHLabor_News
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