Earlier this week Massachusetts Superior Court Judge Robert Rufo denied the Town of Mashpee’s motion to dismiss the Quinn bill lawsuit brought by several Mashpee Officers. The Suit contends that the Town violated the law when it reduced Quinn Bill payments to officers based on an anticipated reduction in state funding. After hearing argument, Judge Rufo denied the motion from the bench, an unusual move. The case will now proceed to a decision on the merit.
The suit alleges that under the Quinn Bill, a municipality may NOT reduce Quinn bill benefits, even if the collective bargaining agreement between the municipality and its union would purport to allow a reduction. This is because the Quinn Bill is NOT a statute that parties may amend via bargaining. Allowing a Town to reduce Quinn benefits is the same as allowing it to pay officers below the minimum wage. Even if the contract says it’s permissible, it is not.
“We’re extremely happy that Judge Rufo refused to dismiss the case. The officers will now have their case heard on its merits,” said Sandulli Grace’s Bryan Decker, who argued for the officers. “We’re confident that we will prevail and that the Town will be ordered to pay its officers the full benefit to which they are entitled.”
Even assuming that the case will be successful, educational benefits for officers are not ensured in the future. The legislature already “closed” the program to newly hired officers; and the Governor is pushing further changes that would ALLOW a town to reduce payments if the state short changes the town on reimbursement. “It’s pretty disgraceful, the state’s reduction in Quinn reimbursement is nothing more than a back door local aid cut,” says Decker. “Nonetheless, towns and cities can’t just cut police officers’ pay. That’s outrageous.”