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Panel: Town can't refuse detail

Last modified: 10/4/2012 12:00:00 AM
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 last Thursday, Douglas Ingersoll, presiding officer of the labor board, ordered the town to resume assigning detail work and reimburse officers for earnings they lost this year so far.

In 2011, the town received $80,000 in payments from private details, $47,000 of that going to the officers or to cover administrative costs of arranging the detail. The rest was revenue for the town.

The selectmen did not discuss the decision during the public portion of their meeting this week, but are scheduled to meet with their lawyer Tuesday. The board has 20 days to decide whether to appeal the decision, according to Town Administrator Paul Skowron.

Despite the order to resume awarding detail assignments, the town has not assigned any officers to a private detail since receiving the order, Skowron said.

He did not know if the department had received requests for detail officers since the ruling was issued, but said even if it had, 'at this juncture, unless otherwise advised, the town believes it can at this juncture speak with legal counsel before responding' to the decision.

Details are allowed under the contract, which voters approved at town meeting in March. Voters also cut $125,000 from the budget. The directive against details, and another against overtime for police officers, firefighters and EMTs were an effort to meet the new bottom line.

This complaint was filed against the town by Teamsters Local 633, representing the police patrolmen. AFT-NH, the union representing Pittsfield's EMTs and police sergeants, filed another alleging the town violated employees' free speech rights and contractual rights to overtime.

No decision has been issued on those complaints yet. A hearing is scheduled today on an AFT-NH complaint that the selectmen violated the contract when they changed the requirements for when an employee needs to provide a doctor's note.

(Sarah Palermo can be reached at 369-3322 or spalermo@cmonitor.com or on Twitter @SpalermoNews.)


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