Mandatory Overtime Is a Fact of Life

The Appeals Court has again confirmed that, not withstanding an arbitrator’s ruling, it will not permit any infringement on what it views as a police chief’s inherent managerial right to require mandatory overtime of public safety personnel. In Town of Saugus v. Saugus Public Safety Dispatchers, issued 12/23/05, the Appeals Court again overturned an arbitrator’s award finding a contract violation in a chief’s requiring mandatory overtime. This case involved police dispatchers. The decision follows similar ones involving Saugus (64Mass. App. Ct. 916 (2005)) and Andover (45 Mass. App. Ct. 167 (1998))police officers.

The message for those of us representing public safety personnel is clear: Mandatory overtime is a fact of life. Our job is to negotiatewith management to make such overtime as acceptable as possible. The lawis quite clear that management has to negotiate with a union over how much someone gets paid to perform overtime and the process of selecting who does the overtime. Some unions have a rotating list by inverse seniority; others confine the requirement to the most junior officers.In some cases, where last minute absence leaves no other choice, officers have to be held over.

Aside from the basic reality that someone can be required to work overtime, the identity and compensation of that person or persons is within the union’s power to negotiate. I have always felt that it is unwise for police unions to contest management’s requiring mandatory overtime. If we are arguing that the work police do is essential, it makes no sense to say that, if no onewants to do that work on a particular shift, it is unnecessary. To the contrary, police unions need to advocate that for reasons of both officer safety and workload, there must be at all times a minimal number of officers available to respond to service calls and calls for officers in trouble.

Well Funded Labor Agencies Lead to Savings

More funding for the state’s Department of Labor would speed the resolution of labor disputes and assist both employers and workers, labor attorneys told state officials Thursday. At a budget hearing that DOL officials said would inform their talks with the Executive Office of Administration and Finance, the lawyers lobbied for increased line items for the department’s five labor relations agencies. "What we’re asking you to do is to enable these agencies to be as effective as they can be," urged Joseph Sandulli of the Boston law firm Sandulli Grace, which specializes in labor litigation. "Please don’t delete them, don’t tamper with them".

The sparsely attended public hearing included officials from each of the five agencies, DOL Director John Ziemba said: the Massachusetts Division of Occupational Safety, the Labor Relations Commission, the Board of Conciliation and Arbitration, the Joint Labor Management Committee, and the Department of Industrial Accidents. "They really have been crippled by all these budget cuts," said Amy Davidson, a Sandulli Grace attorney.

Adequately funded, smoothly running offices designed to help settle labor disputes cut down on the ancillary costs associated with the lawsuits and disruptions, and their impact on cities and towns, the attorneys testified. "The quicker we can resolve these problems in the labor management arena, the better off both parties are," Davidson said. Ziemba called the department’s budget requests part of "an iterative process" leading up to Gov. Romney’s budget proposal set to be unveiled next month. Hearing from "interested parties" helps the department’s budget authors "crystallize" the various agencies’ needs, Ziemba said. "It informs the debate about certain items and how important they are".

Sandulli Grace wins stay order on officer info on racial profiling forms

Chief justice of the appeals court orders boston police department not to collect officer information on racial profiling forms pending resolution of union’s challenge. Sandulli Grace, P.C. secured another important victory for police officers and their unions today when Chief Justice Christopher Armstrong of the Massachusetts Appeal Court issued an order preventing the Boston Police Department from collecting officer identification information as part of information gathering under a 2000 statute designed to gather information regarding race and traffic stops.

The case arose in August, when the Boston Police Patrolmens Association, represented by Sandulli Grace, challenged the Department’s intention to require officers to include their identification numbers when filling out the new Traffic Stop Data Collection Form. The BPPA filed suit based on the language of the Racial Profiling Data Collection Act, which states that “data acquired under this section … may not contain information that may reveal the identity of… any individual who is stopped or any law enforcement officer.” In September, a Superior Court judge denied the BPPA’s request for an injunction. On October 7, a single justice of the Appeals Court noted that the BPPA’s position had merit, and suggested that the BPPA appeal and seek a stay against the City pending that appeal.

Today, Chief Justice Armstrong issued that stay, and also ordered that the appeal be heard in December, much sooner than a typical appeal. Copies of the Appeal Court stay and the earlier decision by Judge Laurence of the Appeals Court are attached. If your police department is requiring you to fill out the Traffic Stop Data Collection Form and include any information identifying you, this order from the Appeals Court should provide a basis to stop your department from including your name or other identifying information in the form. You should, however, always consult your union or legal counsel before taking unilateral action.