Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Teamsters win battle in War on Workers in small NH town

This new mom brought her 2-week-old baby to defend her rights.
Small groups of Teamsters and town employees in a small New Hampshire town are sticking together to defend their rights. And they're winning.

The trouble began in March, when a new Board of Selectmen took office in Pittsfield. They soon issued a gag order against the Teamster patrol officers, represented by Local 633. Other town employees represented by AFT-NH were also affected: ambulance department employees, town workers, and police sergeants.

All statements to the news media were to be first cleared by the Board of Selectmen. The townspeople object and the AFT-NH threatened to sue, so the board rescinded the order a week later.

Then the board violated the Teamster contract by refusing to assign private details to the police officers.

Matt Murray, writing in NH Labor News, explains:
A private company like, PSNH or Fairpoint hires a police officer through the town.  Then the company pays the town, the cost of the officer and an additional amount that goes directly to the town’s bank account. For every detail the Pittsfield officer works, he gets extra money, and the town gets free money. It is a total win-win.  I don’t know why the selectmen would not be encouraging more details.
Teamsters Local 633 filed a complaint before the Public Employee Labor Relations Board. And they won. Last month, reported the Concord Monitor,
The state labor relations board ruled the town of Pittsfield violated a contract with police officers by refusing to assign private details, one of several complaints town employees have against selectmen. 
In a ruling issued on last Thursday, Douglas Ingersoll, Executive Director of the labor board, ordered the town to resume assigning detail work and reimburse officers for earnings they lost this year so far.
Writes Murray,
This a big win for the patrol officers and Teamsters in the town. What is amazing (is) that ... the Board of Selectmen has yet to acknowledge the upside for the taxpayers of Pittsfield. By refusing private details the town is losing thousands of dollars ($33,000) in absolutely free money.
Pittsfield's Board of Selectmen seems to be attacking its employees out of sheer spite. They've reprimanded the police chief for defending his officers (who didn't do anything wrong); they decided employees can't swap shifts, in violation of the contract; they require a doctor's note for one day of absence though the contract allows for five days.

Sadly, all this isn't a surprise. The Teamsters represent 200,000 government workers and have been fighting for them in every corner of the country.

But here's an inspiring story from an AFT-NH sister who works as an EMT for the Town of Pittsfield. Writes Murray:
The fact that their rights are being trampled by the town selectman was taken to heart by one EMT, Alyssa MacGlashing.  She felt so strongly about this ULP and her rights under the CBA that she came out to testify last Thursday.  Not only did she testify she brought her two week old baby with her.  That’s right, only two weeks after have a child she was before the PELRB defending her rights.
 If you fight, you can win.