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As part of the ongoing arbitration between the Methuen Superior Officer’s Union and the City of Methuen, the union is asking for a financial award of damages for what they say is retaliation.
The superior officers says that there is a pattern of actionable claims against the city for unfair labor practices including releasing the social security numbers and dates of birth of superior officers and their families during public records requests.
The union also says that the city failed to fill positions which increases the liability for superior officers as well as their workload, while at the same time filling positions in other city departments.
Part of the union’s unfair labor practice claims are what they call defamatory statements by city councilors Saba and McCarty in violation of the Massachusetts Fair Labor Act; MGL ch 150E collective bargaining law covering unfair labor practices.
The union is requesting damages but did not specify an amount.
“This has been happening since early last year,” union president Greg Gallant told The Valley Patriot. “They failed to fund custodial hours during weekends, failed to fund cleaning supplies and I know it sounds silly but we are running out of toilet paper in the department. This is what this administration has been doing in the last two years. We wrote email after email asking for cleaning supplies, to fill positions, etc., but the mayor’s office just refuses to respond.”
Gallant says they also had several grievances during last year that went to the last step of going before the mayor and he just refuses to reply.
Gallant said that his frustration with two members of the city council could cost the city money. “Councilor McCarty has made defamatory statement where he continues specifically to state that there was a criminal conspiracy and criminal activity taking place during the negotiation of the 2017 contract negotiations. These are statements he must know are not true or he should know they are not true. There were never two different contracts with different language to deceive anyone or conspire to commit a crime. We do have a civil attorney at this point gathering information.” Gallant added that there may be a separate suit as the result.
A NEW COUNCIL
“We want to congratulate the new mayor and all the new incoming councilors who won this week. We are looking forward to the opportunity of working with them all in a new political environment where facts and data will be presented and decisions will be made based on those facts and that data. Whereas, up until now it has been based on emotions and rumors and innuendo and statements that parties know or should know are not true but continue to be repeated.”
WHEN BINDING ISN’T BINDING?
“McCarty said during an interview with a local blogger that arbitration is not final and binding but it is. I don’t know where he’s getting his information but in my contract it says we have final and binding arbitration rights as part of our final grievance process.
WHO ASKED FOR CONTINUANCE
Gallant also says that comments by Saba and McCarty that the union pushed back the date of arbitration isn’t true.
“Councilor Saba said that the union wanted to push the hearing for arbitration to December. But, that’s not true. We wanted it held right away. It was the city that requested the delay, not us. The arbitrator allowed the delay over our objections. We wanted this settled as soon as possible to give closure to everyone on this matter. We wanted it resolved as quickly as possible. ◊