On Saturday May 1st, the Boston Bar Association will be holding its 37th Annual Workshop for Public Sector Labor Relations Specialists at Langdell Hall, Harvard Law School. The program is designed to familiarize lay people and attorneys who specialize in labor relations with current trends in collective bargaining and other issues affecting public employees. This year’s program features newly appointed Secretary of Labor Joanne Goldstein as well as members of the Commonwealth Employment Relations Board and the Director of the Division of Labor Relations. A second panel deals with the recent reorganization of the transportation agencies. The conference is co-chaired by Amy Laura Davidson of Sandulli Grace, P. C., Peter J. Berry, of Deutsch, Williams, Brooks, DeRensis & Holland, P. C., and Suffolk University Professor of Law Marc Greenbaum.
Click here for further details and registration form.
Amy Davidson has been appointed as Chair of the Division of Labor Relations Advisory Council. The Division of Labor Relations is the agency charged with jurisdiction over unfair labor practice cases, arbitrations and mediation and interest arbitration under the Joint Labor Management Committee. Early in her career, Amy worked as a hearing officer for the Labor Relations Commission, the predecessor to the Division of Labor Relations. In 2007, Amy chaired a Mass Bar Association committee that was involved in discussions with the Secretary of Labor which ultimately lead to the reorganization of the agency to the Division of Labor Relations .
The Advisory Council is charged with responsibility for advising the Division of Labor Relations concerning policies and practices that it might implement to better discharge its labor relations duties. It is comprised of thirteen members including five representatives of public sector unions, five representatives of public sector management and three non-affiliated members. The Director of Labor, the Chair of the Commonwealth Employment Relations Board and the Director of the Division of Labor Relations will all serve as non-voting members of the Advisory Council.
Amy has been serving as a labor representative on the Advisory Council since 2008 when she was first appointed to that position by the governor. Initially, she participated with other members of the Council in interviews of candidates for appointment to the Commonwealth Employment Relations Board and the Director of the Division of Labor Relations. More recently, Amy has participated in discussions about the revision of regulations governing the Division. On April 21, 2010, Amy was sworn in as Chair of the Council. She will serve in that position for two years.
Read The Appointment letter…
LERA hosts dinner meeting regarding Veteran’s Benefits and Jobs. The Labor and Employment Relations Association is hosting a dinner meeting regarding veteran’s benefits and jobs on Thursday March 19, 2008. The meeting is at;
NSTAR Electric & Gas
One NSTAR Way, (Please use EAST ENTRANCE)
Westwood, MA 02090
Social Hour @ 5:30 PM
Dinner @ 6:30 PM
Tickets: $50/Member • $60/Non-Member • $25 student
Download the LERA_dinner_meeting flyer_
Sandulli Grace partner Amy Laura Davidson successfully reversed a one-day suspension issued against a Rehoboth police officer for alleged misuse of the CORI system to check up on an unpopular selectman with whom the Union has been at war. The arbitrator reversed the discipline in its entirety finding no just cause for any discipline against the grievant, Officer James Casey.
The Town argued that the CORI check was an unlawful curiosity check. The arbitrator found that Casey was prompted to run the check because Selectman Morra had demanded to meet with him about the status of Morra’s license.
The Town also argued that the check was unlawful because Casey did not take any action against Morra after finding that Morra had still not obtained a Massachusetts license. The arbitrator rejected that argument accepting Casey’s explanation that he did not want to start a war with Selectman Morra.
The arbitrator also noted that the Department had not provided training on the proper utilization of CJIS and that Casey was not on notice that discipline could result from his actions.
The arbitrator also recommended that the Town restore the grievant’s access to the CJIS and NCIC systems which was suspended by the Criminal History Systems Board.
Read the rehoboth-casey-arbitrators-award.pdf
Amy Davidson has been appointed to the Division of Labor Relations Advisory Council. The Division of Labor Relations is the newly-formed consolidated agency with jurisdiction over unfair labor practice cases, arbitrations and the Joint Labor Management Committee.
The Advisory Council is charged with responsibility for advising the new Division of Labor Relations concerning policies and practices that it might implement to better discharge its labor relations duties. The Council will be interviewing and vetting candidates for vacancies in the positions of Director and Board members (formerly known as Labor Relations Commissioners). The Council will submit the names of successful candidates to the governor for appointment.
The Advisory Council is comprised of thirteen members including five representatives of public sector unions, five representatives of public sector management and three non-affiliated members. The Director of Labor, the Chair of the Commonwealth Employment Relations Board and the Director of the Division of Labor Relations will all serve as non-voting members of the Advisory Council.
The legislature passed a bill that reorganizes the three state agencies with jurisdiction over public sector employees – the Labor Relations Commission, the Board of Conciliation and Arbitration and the Joint Labor Management Committee.
Amy Laura Davidson served as Chair of the Mass Bar Association’s Labor Liaison Committee to the Secretary of Labor’s office. She was involved in the discussions that lead to the formulation of the new law.
Chapter 145 of the Acts of 2007 became law on November 15, 2007. The bill merges the Labor Relations Commission, the Joint Labor Management Committee (JLMC) and the Board of Conciliation and Arbitration (BC&A) into one multifunctional agency, thereby increasing the staff available to resolve our disputes. We anticipate that the bill will expedite the processing of our unfair labor practice cases. Some of the pertinent features of the bill are:
- The Commission, BC&A and the JLMC will be consolidated into one agency known as the Division of Labor Relations.
- The Division of Labor Relations will be managed by a Director, whose role will be to establish performance standards to ensure that disputes between unions and public employers are promptly and effectively resolved.
- The Director and the Labor Relations Commissioners will be vetted by an advisory council comprised of five representatives of labor, five representative from management and three neutrals. The advisory council sends the successful nominees to the Governor who ultimately selects the candidate. [Under current law, the governor selects whomever he chooses without any nominating process or input from the parties].
- The Commission will have one full-time Chairperson and two per diem Commissioners, who will come in on an as needed basis to determine unfair labor practice cases. [Currently there are positions for three full-time Commissioners earning six figures each] The legislature will take the money saved as a result of the reduction in full-time Commissioners to invest in additional hearing officers and mediators/arbitrators
- Division Staff, while assigned primarily to one of three areas, will be re-assigned to function as hearing officers, mediators and arbitrators as needed.
- The Division will re-institute the in-person investigation procedure that existed prior to 1992. Under the current process, parties file costly and lengthy briefs of legal arguments and sworn affidavits. Under the in-person investigation procedure, the Commission holds an evidentiary hearing soon after a charge is filed. The hearing officer tries to determine if the case can be solved through mediation. If the case remains unresolved after this step, the hearing officer then determines whether to issue a complaint and schedule a formal hearing.
- The legislation re-institutes the procedure of having decisions first issued by hearing officers. Currently, the Commissioners must review and decide every case, leading to an enormous backlog of decisions, including several involving the BPPA. Under the proposed legislation, the hearing officers will decide cases first, enabling decisions to be issued more quickly.
As with any reform effort, only time will tell whether this legislation ultimately results in speedier and fairer resolution of labor disputes. At least we have a new administration and a Secretary of Labor with an interest in making the labor agencies more responsive to its constituents, namely unions and public employers.
On July 16, 2007, the Massachusetts legislature amended the law to enable cities and towns to more easily join the Group Insurance Commission for the provision of health insurance to municipal employees. The Group Insurance Commission (GIC) is the entity that provides health insurance for state employees. The legislation specifically amends Section 19 of Chapter 32B, providing for coalition bargaining for health insurance, was drafted by a bipartisan group of labor and management representatives.
Read a summary of the bill
In this Brockton Arbitration Award the arbitrator enforced contractual language notwithstanding a twelve year contrary past practice.
The grievance challenged the City’s twelve-year practice of compensating Animal Control Officers for overtime based upon a forty (40) hour work week rather than a thirty-five (35) hour work week. The City challenged the grievance both on arbitrability timeliness grounds and on the merits.
The arbitrator found that the grievance was arbitrable, notwithstanding the City’s timeliness defense, holding that the union had no knowledge that Animal Control Officers were being paid on a forty (40) hour workweek until just prior to filing the grievance. In addition, the arbitrator found the grievance to be a continuing violation.
The arbitrator also enforced the thirty-five (35) hour work week language of the contract, notwithstanding the fact that the City had a twelve-year practice of paying Animal Control Officers based upon a forty (40) hour work week.
Accordingly, the arbitrator held that the City violated the contract by calculating Animal Control Officer overtime based upon a forty (40) hour work week rather than a thirty-five (35) hour work week. As a remedy, the arbitrator ordered the City to make the Animal Control Officers whole for all losses retroactive to ten (10) days prior to filing the grievance. In addition, she ordered the City to prospectively compensate Animal Control Officers and the Animal Control Supervisor an hourly/overtime rate based upon a thirty-five (35) hour workweek.
Download: Arbitration Award and Opinion