Category Archives: Sandulli Grace In The News

Sandulli Grace Attorney Submits Testimony on Civil Service for the Massachusetts Coalition of Police

The police reform bill recently passed by the Massachusetts Legislature (known as the Massachusetts Peace Officer Standards and Training or “POST” law) established a number of committees to study various aspects of policing in the Commonwealth. The job of one of those committees is to study the current civil service system and determine whether any changes need to be made, or whether the entire system should be eliminated. Sandulli Grace attorney John M. Becker recently submitted written testimony to the civil service committee on behalf of the Massachusetts Coalition of Police, a statewide law enforcement union that is one of Sandulli Grace’s clients. The testimony is reproduced below:

Mr. Chairman/Madame Chairwoman, members of the Committee:

My name is John Becker. I am an attorney with the law firm of Sandulli Grace, P.C. I am writing on behalf of our client, the Massachusetts Coalition of Police, a labor organization that represents over 4,500 police officers and other law enforcement professionals in more than 175 cities and towns in Massachusetts.

I am here today to testify in favor of retaining the civil service system for public safety employees in Massachusetts. There are significant benefits to keeping civil service, as I will explain, and eliminating the system is likely to have significant negative consequences, not the least of which is that dismantling the system and distributing these powers and duties to 351 separate municipalities would be contrary to the objectives of the POST legislation to create consistent statewide standards for police.

Right now, civil service operates in 170 Massachusetts municipalities, including every city in the Commonwealth and a significant number of towns. The state human resources division (HRD), through its civil service unit, regulates hiring and promotional procedures, compiles and administers tests, and compiles and manages eligibility lists from those tests. When a municipality seeks to appoint or promote a public safety officer, civil service ensures that the legal standards are adhered to. HRD also provides an appeal process for applicants who have concerns regarding bypasses, scoring, and training and experience credits. In addition, the Civil Service Commission provides review of suspensions, terminations, and demotions of civil service employees. Upon the appeal of an employee, the Commission reviews such decisions to ensure there was just cause for the action.

Eliminating the civil service system will have significant negative consequences for employees, municipalities, and the Commonwealth as a whole. The purpose of the civil service system is to ensure that appointments and promotions are based solely on merit. The Commonwealth has developed standardized tests for physical fitness, as well as standardized written examinations testing the applicant’s knowledge and skills. The rules for appointment and promotion ensure that employers must rely primarily on objective criteria – test results, training and experience, and other relevant factors – to make their decisions. The system significantly reduces or eliminates the use of political considerations, personal preferences, favoritism, and other irrelevant criteria for hiring and promotional decisions. Returning control of the system to the municipalities will only increase the opportunities for local officials to use these non-objective criteria in the decision-making process.

Maybe even more importantly, the elimination of the statewide standards provided by civil service is inconsistent with the purposes of the recently-passed POST legislation. The idea behind POST is to develop stringent and consistent statewide standards for police. Right now, civil service provides a single, statewide set of standards and rules for hiring and promotion of public safety employees. But dismantling civil service and giving total power for hiring and promotion to the municipalities will potentially create 351 separate sets of rules and standards for hiring and promotion. Instead of furthering the objectives of the POST law, eliminating civil service and dispersing these duties to individual municipalities will do just the opposite, by reducing consistency and creating a patchwork quilt of different standards across the Commonwealth.

This is not to say that municipalities do not have any say in hiring and promotion. Under civil service law, municipalities have the ability to choose from among the top scorers according to a formula known as “2N + 1” and may bypass the top scorer with any reasonable justification. Municipalities can also work with civil service to develop locality-specific testing, or adopt innovative hiring processes such as assessment centers (at the municipality’s cost) to supplement the tests administered by the state. HRD’s rules also allow municipalities to specifically seek local residents, people who speak a certain foreign language, or, if there is a showing of prior discrimination, they can ask for a list of women or minority candidates in order to increase diversity. Furthermore, towns already have the ability to remove themselves from civil service entirely through the political process, and quite a few have taken that step. If municipalities have concerns about specific aspects of the state hiring and promotional rules, they should ask the Legislature to make targeted changes instead of getting rid of the whole system and throwing out the baby with the bathwater.

The ability to appeal disciplinary action to the Civil Service Commission is also a benefit to employees and municipalities. The Civil Service Commission provides a low-cost way for individuals to obtain due process – in a setting removed from local politics – and determine whether there was just cause for suspensions, discharges and demotions. The Commission upholds the discipline in the vast majority of cases. Although many police unions and municipalities also have just cause provisions in their collective bargaining agreements (CBAs), which are resolved through neutral third-party arbitration, some CBAs lack such just cause provisions and so civil service appeals are the only way to obtain review of discipline. Furthermore, because the Union controls the ability to go to arbitration, some individuals may prefer to go to civil service, where they have full control of the process. Even where arbitration is available, civil service provides a lower-cost alternative that both municipalities and unions may sometimes find useful.

In conclusion:

Police officers should be evaluated based on their merit alone. The existence of the civil service system reassures the public that officers have their jobs for no reason other than their qualifications. Police officers can concentrate on doing their jobs, without worrying about being beholden to any particular political force in the community.

The civil service system also provides a consistent statewide standard for hiring and promotion of police and other public safety employees. Fragmenting the system into a hodgepodge of municipal hiring and promotional policies will cause duplication of costs, increased potential for inconsistency, not to mention the potential for political considerations to enter into the process, and moreover, is exactly contrary to the purpose and objectives of the POST legislation.

For these reasons, I urge the Committee to retain the civil service system in Massachusetts.

Tribute to Joseph G. Sandulli, November 17, 1944 to March 10, 2021

It is with great sadness that we announce the passing of our colleague, mentor and friend, Joseph G. Sandulli. Joe passed away on March 10, 2021, with his family around him, after a characteristically courageous battle with cancer.

Joe graduated from the University of Pennsylvania Law School in 1969 and became an attorney in 1970. On April 1, 1977, Joe founded what would become Sandulli Grace, P.C., by opening his own law practice on Mt. Vernon Street in Boston.

His solo practice grew into Boston’s premier union-side public sector labor law firm.

He was at the vanguard in forming what has since grown to be the largest law enforcement union in Massachusetts and New England. Organized in 1979 with just five local police departments in the Worcester area, the Massachusetts Coalition of Police (“MASS C.O.P.”) represents over 4,400 members in over 173 cities and towns in Massachusetts. Sandulli Grace has grown with MassCOP, and MassCOP became part of Joe’s family. Together, MassCOP and Sandulli Grace have established an over 40-year tradition of providing the highest quality of service to Massachusetts law enforcement officers.

Joe’s contribution to union-side labor law is legendary. Joe was the editor of the “Judicial Guide to Labor and Employment Law.” He served the Massachusetts bar as a Co-Chair of the Boston Bar Labor & Employment Law Section. He was the first lawyer in our firm to receive the Labor Guild’s Cushing-Gavin Award for Union Attorneys, which the Guild presented to him in 2008.

Joe negotiated excellent contracts, and advocated ferociously in all legal fora for our union clients, including countless locals of the Massachusetts Coalition of Police, the Boston Police Patrolmen’s Association, the Massachusetts Teachers Association, and many independent police, firefighter, EMT/paramedic and civilian unions.

Joe was brilliant and fearless. He once conducted an interest arbitration late into the night for the BPPA, prompting an anonymous source to write on our firm’s bathroom wall, “Joe Sandulli is Awesome.” That he was.

Joe believed strongly in educating the firm’s clients. He fostered a tradition of education, which has culminated in our firm’s regular education seminars for our clients, particularly the Massachusetts Coalition of Police, who share his vision of union empowerment through education. When Joe retired in 2015, we asked him what kind of retirement party he wanted. He immediately said he wanted it to be an education seminar. We invited some colleagues to speak on a panel with him about a pending U.S. Supreme Court Case called Friedrichs v. California Teachers Association, which became the precursor to Janus v. ASFCME, the decision that ended agency service fee for public employees. You have not discussed Supreme Court law until you have done it while sharing cocktails with Joe Sandulli.

Joe was a loving family man, and he integrated his family into the fabric of our firm. He was unfailingly respectful to all members of this firm, from the most senior to the most junior, always paying attention to our opinions. Joe seemed to know everything, but his curiosity never failed and he never stopped learning. Joe was creative, interesting, fun and kind. He kept us on high alert with his spontaneity and quirky sense of humor. The only thing one could ever predict about Joe was his excellence as a lawyer.

Joe continually stunned us with his physical vitality, defying the aging process to play competitive soccer and ride his horse daily, well into the last year of his life. We thought that nothing could stop him, but unfortunately cancer did. Our hearts are broken by his loss, but his values are embedded in Sandulli Grace and will live on in the law firm he built. We love you, Joe.

Please share your memories of Joe below.

Sandulli Grace, P.C. and the Massachusetts Coalition of Police Present the next 2019 Training on December 4, 2019

Sandulli Grace, P.C. and the Massachusetts Coalition of Police are proud to announce our third 2019 police union training. Sandulli Grace and MassCOP believe in empowering MassCOP’s local unions through education, to create a stronger, safer environment for members. Our 2019 training sessions will give you tools to enforce your rights and improve your members’ working conditions.

Basics Trainings

In the past two years, MassCOP and Sandulli Grace have presented multiple “basics” trainings to our police unions. We believe there is a continued need for these trainings, as unions continue to elect new leaders, and new legal challenges present themselves every day. Topics include:

  • Grievance Processing
  • Discipline
  • Bargaining
  • Stress in the Workplace

Whether you are newly elected, or a seasoned union leader looking for ideas on how to make your job easier and more effective, these basics trainings can give you helpful information about issues that local unions face every day.

Bring Your Contract!

We intend this training to be interactive and practical, so we ask each person to please bring a copy of your collective bargaining agreement so that we can discuss real situations. PARTICIPATION IS NOT NECESSARY, BUT IT ADDS TO EVERYONE’S EXPERIENCE! WE STRONGLY ENCOURAGE IT! We will help you interpret your contract’s provisions on grievance processing and appealing discipline, and we will discuss what proposals you might want to make in your next round of bargaining.

How to Register

Our next 2019 training will be held on Wednesday, December 4, 2019 from 10:00 a.m. – 2:00 p.m. at the American Legion Hall, 199 Federal Furnace Rd, Plymouth, MA 02360. Please see the attached flyer. The cost is $55 per person. Payment can be by check mailed to Gia Capozzi at Sandulli Grace, P.C., 44 School Street, Suite 1100, Boston, MA 02018, or by credit card at this link:
https://www.eventbrite.com/e/basics-training-2019-tickets-74856835811.

We welcome your feedback regarding the location and content of these training sessions. Please do not hesitate to contact us with questions or suggestions at gcapozzi@sandulligrace.com.

Download the event flyer

Sandulli Grace, P.C. and the Massachusetts Coalition of Police Present the next 2019 Training

Sandulli Grace, P.C. and the Massachusetts Coalition of Police are proud to announce our third 2019 police union training. Sandulli Grace and MassCOP believe in empowering MassCOP’s local unions through education, to create a stronger, safer environment for members. Our 2019 training sessions will give you tools to enforce your rights and improve your members’ working conditions.

Basics Trainings

In the past two years, MassCOP and Sandulli Grace have presented multiple “basics” trainings to our police unions. We believe there is a continued need for these trainings, as unions continue to elect new leaders, and new legal challenges present themselves every day. Topics include:

  • Grievance Processing
  • Discipline
  • Bargaining
  • Stress in the Workplace

Whether you are newly elected, or a seasoned union leader looking for ideas on how to make your job easier and more effective, these basics trainings can give you helpful information about issues that local unions face every day.

Bring Your Contract!

We intend this training to be interactive and practical, so we ask each person to please bring a copy of your collective bargaining agreement so that we can discuss real situations. PARTICIPATION IS NOT NECESSARY, BUT IT ADDS TO EVERYONE’S EXPERIENCE! WE STRONGLY ENCOURAGE IT! We will help you interpret your contract’s provisions on grievance processing and appealing discipline, and we will discuss what proposals you might want to make in your next round of bargaining.

How to Register

Our next 2019 training will be held on Wednesday, December 4, 2019 from 10:00 a.m. – 2:00 p.m. at the American Legion Hall, 199 Federal Furnace Rd, Plymouth, MA 02360. Please see the attached flyer. The cost is $55 per person. Payment can be by check mailed to Gia Capozzi at Sandulli Grace, P.C., 44 School Street, Suite 1100, Boston, MA 02018, or by credit card at this link:
https://www.eventbrite.com/e/basics-training-2019-tickets-74856835811.

We welcome your feedback regarding the location and content of these training sessions. Please do not hesitate to contact us with questions or suggestions at gcapozzi@sandulligrace.com.

Download the event flyer

Sandulli Grace Welcomes Former Labor Board Attorney James Racine

Sandulli Grace is excited to announce the hiring of our newest attorney, James Racine. James brings a wealth of experience in labor issues to the firm from his time working as a field attorney for the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB), Region 31, in Los Angeles. As a field attorney, James acted on behalf of the General Counsel by investigating charges of unfair labor practices and resolving and litigating cases before administrative law judges. James also helped conduct elections to determine union representation preferences and drafted decisions for the Regional Director in contested representation matters.

Prior to working for the NLRB, James served as a law clerk to administrative law judges at the United States Department of Labor in Washington, D.C. and Boston. He also represented clients at administrative hearings before the Massachusetts Department of Unemployment Assistance as an attorney in the employment law unit of the Central West Justice Center in Worcester, MA.

James received his Juris Doctor from Boston College Law School, and a bachelor’s in history from the University of Massachusetts, Dartmouth. During law school, James represented an asylum seeker before the Boston Immigration Court as a student attorney in the Boston College Law School Immigration and Asylum Clinic and completed internships at the U.S. Department of Labor, Office of the Solicitor, the Medical-Legal Partnership, and the International Legal Foundation in Nepal and New York.

James currently lives in Norton, MA with his wife and two children. He enjoys traveling, reading, and following the Red Sox. Please join us in welcoming James to Sandulli Grace.

MASSACHUSETTS COALITION OF POLICE ADVANCED TRAINING TUESDAY, APRIL 23, 2019

Sponsored and run by MassCOP officials and attorneys from Sandulli Grace, P.C.

This training will go beyond MassCOP’s “basics” trainings to explore in depth the process of bargaining your next contract, including:

Identifying comparable communities
Analyzing comparable benefits
The municipality’s ability to pay
Drafting proposals
Ground rules
Negotiating tactics
Health insurance
Ratification of the MOA
Getting the contract funded
The JLMC process

This advanced training session will be held on Tuesday, April 23, 2019, at the Doubletree by Hilton Hotel, 5400 Computer Dr., Westborough, MA from 8:30 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. with reception to follow

Cost is $85 per person INCLUDES Continental Breakfast, Lunch, a Cocktail Reception & Materials

Please pay by check or credit card at: https://www.eventbrite.com/e/advanced-training-tickets-58452715646
Seating is limited so registration is final.

For more information, please visit our web sites: www.sandulligrace.com or www.masscop.org

Massachusetts Law Review Publishes Article on Labor Arbitration by Sandulli Grace Attorney

The most recent edition of the Massachusetts Law Review features an article by Sandulli Grace attorney John M. Becker entitled, “The Role of Public Policy in Judicial Review of Massachusetts Public Sector Labor Arbitration Awards.” The article reviews the decision by the Supreme Judicial Court in City of Boston v. Boston Police Patrolmen’s Association, 477 Mass. 434 (2017) in light of the history of court review of labor arbitration in Massachusetts, with a particular focus on public policy. The article discusses three ways in which public policy plays a role in judicial review of arbitration:

  1. the policy in favor of resolving labor disputes through arbitration, and against judicial interference in such disputes;
  2. the public policy exception to labor arbitration awards, a court-created doctrine used to overturn certain decisions by arbitrators that violate public policy; and
  3. the nondelegability doctrine, pursuant to which the courts have found that some arbitration awards (and the collective bargaining agreements they are enforcing) are unenforceable because they impinge on the management rights of the public employer.

In addition to tracing the history of public sector labor arbitration and public policy, Attorney Becker provides his opinions on certain key legal questions, including:

  1. expressing a concern that after a court finds certain CBA language is unenforceable under the nondelegability doctrine, the Union has no opportunity to go back to the bargaining table to obtain a replacement benefit for the one that was lost;
  2. opining that, in cases involving awards reinstating discharged employees, the public policy exception should be restricted to cases in which a specific law requires termination – and only termination – as a punishment for the named offense; and
  3. advocating that the contours of the nondelegablility doctrine should be consistent with cases under G.L. c. 150E defining mandatory and permissive subjects of bargaining.

Many of the cases discussed in the article were litigated by Attorney Becker or other Sandulli Grace attorneys, including: City of Boston v. Boston Police Patrolmen’s Ass’n, 477 Mass. 434 (2017); Adams v. City of Boston, 461 Mass. 602 (2012); City of Boston v. Boston Police Patrolmen’s Ass’n, 443 Mass. 813 (2005); School Comm. of Marshfield v. Marshfield Educ. Ass’n, 84 Mass. App. Ct. 743 (2014); City of Boston v. Police Patrolmen’s Ass’n, 74 Mass. App. Ct. 379 (2009); Boston Police Patrolmen’s Ass’n v. City of Boston, 60 Mass. App. Ct. 672 (2004); and City of Boston v. Boston Police Patrolmen’s Ass’n, 41 Mass. App. Ct. 269 (1996).

Attorney Becker’s article can be found in Massachusetts Law Review Volume 100, No. 2 (March 2019). You can see the full article here. https://www.massbar.org/docs/default-source/publications-document-library/massachusetts-law-review/2018/mlrvol100no2.pdf?sfvrsn=4. The Massachusetts Law Review is published by the Massachusetts Bar Association.

Sandulli Grace, P.C. and the Massachusetts Coalition of Police Present our 2019 Training Series

Sandulli Grace, P.C. and the Massachusetts Coalition of Police are proud to announce our 2019 police union training series.

Sandulli Grace and MassCOP believe in empowering MassCOP’s local unions through education, to create a stronger, safer environment for members. Our 2019 training sessions will give you tools to enforce your rights and improve your members’ working conditions.

Basics Trainings

In the past two years, MassCOP and Sandulli Grace have presented multiple “basics” trainings to our police unions. We believe there is a continued need for these trainings, as unions continue to elect new leaders, and new legal challenges present themselves every day. Topics include:

• Grievance Processing
• Discipline
• Bargaining
• Stress in the Workplace

Whether you are newly elected, or a seasoned union leader looking for ideas on how to make your job easier and more effective, these basics trainings can give you helpful information about issues that local unions face every day.

Our first basics training of 2019 will be held on Wednesday, January 30, 2019 at the Acton, Massachusetts Police Department. Please see the attached flyer for registration details. The cost is $55 per person. Payment can be by check mailed to Gia Capozzi at Sandulli Grace, P.C., 44 School Street, Suite 1100, Boston, MA 02018, or by credit card at this link: https://www.eventbrite.com/o/sandulli-grace-18167930473.

The second basics training of 2019 will be held in the fall at a location to be announced. We hold these trainings in difference regions of the state each time, to make it easier for all of our members to attend. Previous trainings have been held in Southbridge, Foxborough, Wakefield and Stockbridge.

Advanced Trainings

We presented an “advanced” training in October 2018, offering in-depth discussions of issues such as discharge, unfair labor practices, retirement, injury leave and health insurance. This training was extremely well-attended, and we decided to make it an annual event. Our 2019 advanced training will focus on bargaining your next contract – for example, gathering and identifying comparables, drafting proposals, negotiating at the table, analyzing ability to pay, getting the contract funded, and navigating the JLMC process. The 2019 advanced training will take place in the spring of 2019 (date and location to be announced).

We welcome your feedback regarding the location and content of these training sessions. Please do not hesitate to contact us with questions or suggestions at gcapozzi@sandulligrace.com.

Download the Flyer for Jan. 30 2019 Acton Training

Massachusetts Coalition Of Police 2018 Basics Training Seminar (for MASSCOP Local Officials & Members)

Sandulli Grace and the Massachusetts Coalition of Police are pleased to announce our second year of training sessions for MassCOP members.

MassCOP believes in empowering its local unions through education to create a stronger, safer environment for its members. This training will give you tools to enforce your rights and improve your members’ working conditions.

Our 2017 “basics” training sessions were extremely popular, especially with newly elected union leaders looking for guidance on the rights and responsibilities of union officials. We understand that union leadership changes rapidly, and so we will offer two more basics trainings in 2018. The first one will be on Thursday, June 28, 2018 from 11:00 to 3:00 at the Stockbridge Police Department. We invite all MassCOP members. We hope the location of this training will enable many of MassCOP’s western Massachusetts locals to attend.

Our second 2018 “basics” training will take place in November 2018, in Middlesex County (date to be announced).

We will also offer an advanced training in October 2018, which will address the following topics in depth: retirement options, disability, management rights, just cause, grievance v. ULPs, health insurance, and dispatch basics. This will be a full-day training at the Sheraton Framingham (date to be announced).

We hope that the availability of additional dates and different locations will help more members attend. Please see the attached flyer for registration for the June 28, 2018 Stockbridge training.

Sincerely,
The Massachusetts Coalition of Police and Sandulli Grace, P.C.

attached flyer for registration

Massachusetts Coalition Of Police 2018 Basics Training Seminar (for MASSCOP Local Officials & Members)

Sandulli Grace and the Massachusetts Coalition of Police are pleased to announce our second year of training sessions for MassCOP members.

MassCOP believes in empowering its local unions through education to create a stronger, safer environment for its members. This training will give you tools to enforce your rights and improve your members’ working conditions.

Our 2017 “basics” training sessions were extremely popular, especially with newly elected union leaders looking for guidance on the rights and responsibilities of union officials. We understand that union leadership changes rapidly, and so we will offer two more basics trainings in 2018. The first one will be on Thursday, June 28, 2018 from 11:00 to 3:00 at the Stockbridge Police Department. We invite all MassCOP members. We hope the location of this training will enable many of MassCOP’s western Massachusetts locals to attend.

Our second 2018 “basics” training will take place in November 2018, in Middlesex County (date to be announced).

We will also offer an advanced training in October 2018, which will address the following topics in depth: retirement options, disability, management rights, just cause, grievance v. ULPs, health insurance, and dispatch basics. This will be a full-day training at the Sheraton Framingham (date to be announced).

We hope that the availability of additional dates and different locations will help more members attend. Please see the attached flyer for registration for the June 28, 2018 Stockbridge training.

Sincerely,
The Massachusetts Coalition of Police and Sandulli Grace, P.C.

attached flyer for registration