Firefighters union files complaint against Greenfield
Recorder file/Peter MacDonald The covered bridge on Eunice Williams Drive in Greenfield has been off its abutments since Tropical Storm Irene hit in August 2011.
GREENFIELD — Town officials are calling “arbitrary, unreasonable and frivolous” a complaint filed by firefighters with the state labor board that the town engaged in bad faith bargaining and failed to honor some of the terms of a tentative agreement they’ve had since June 2012.
Peter McIver, president of the Greenfield Permanent Firefighters union, said the union filed a “prohibitive practice” complaint with the state labor board, charging that the town violated a tentative agreement it had with firefighters concerning wage and benefit increases.
He said the town and firefighters signed a tentative agreement at the end of June 2012, which went into effect July 1, 2012, and was meant to act as their contract until a new one was signed. The new contract still has not been signed.
McIver said firefighters have not yet seen the wage and benefit increases they were promised by the town in the tentative agreement.
McIver said if the state decides to go ahead with the complaint, there will be an investigation and the state will schedule a hearing.
Dennis Helmus, the town’s human resources director, said that the union had the initial draft of the new contract, which was based on the terms of the tentative agreement, since fall of 2012 and did not sign it.
Helmus said instead, since last fall, the union has requested changes to the draft and raised questions about some of its provisions.
“The town attempted to accommodate those requests when reasonable and necessary,” said Helmus.
He said the union hired a new lawyer last year, after the tentative agreement was signed, and that lawyer requested clarifications and sought to make changes that were contrary to the terms of the signed tentative agreement.
“The town accommodated their new attorney and his questions, made changes as discussed and agreed to, despite the town not having to do so in some instances, as they were not specified in the signed tentative contract,” said Helmus. “The final draft was sent to (the union lawyer) with the most recent changes, as discussed, but after he and the union received it, they filed this charge, instead of signing the agreement.”
“While we did receive a draft of the collective bargaining agreement in late fall of 2012, four months after signing the memorandum of agreement, it was full of various errors,” said McIver.
He said that since then, the union has disputed many items specific to wording in the agreement. He said the union believes some wording does not match the terms of the tentative agreement.
“For the town to consider these charges unreasonable is ridiculous,” said McIver. “The memorandum contained 29 items to be changed in the contract, and why this process has taken so long is what is unreasonable.”
McIver said the “final draft” was received last week and continued to contain errors.