Leaders of the International Association of Firefighters (IAFF) Local 143, Everett’s firefighters union, last week pointed to a recent finding by the Department of Labor Relations (DLR), that the city admitted that it had acted improperly during negotiations with the union over the past summer, after the city admitted to its actions in a filing to the DLR.
Charges made by the union that some members of the city’s bargaining team may have been coercing others to act improperly or illegally, were dismissed by the DLR, as “unnecessary and superfluous,” to the negotiations.
Local union president Craig Hardy, has characterized the city’s admissions as embarrassing to the city and said that the city admitted to seven charges of Unlawful Conduct under the state’s collective bargaining laws.
However, the DLR’s decision simply records that the city filed motions admitting to its actions, and by extension the violations, and ordered the city to cease and desist from the actions that were deemed illegal, bargain in good faith with the union going forward and to post a “Notice to Employees” that explains DLR’s decision.
Hardy said that he felt compelled to “follow up and let people know that the city admitted to breaking the law,” but that he is not trying to create an untenable situation with the city going forward.
“I was surprised and pleased with the city’s admissions,” said Hardy. “I don’t want this to come across as harsh or as fighting words. I’m just hoping that the city will let the process play out.”
When asked to characterize the state of negotiations and relations between the city and the union at this point, Hardy said that negotiations “were active” prior to the events of the summer and indicated that he hopes the process comes to a resolution soon.
Mayor DeMaria, speaking on behalf of the city and its attorneys said, “We are committed to continuing to bargain in good faith and cultivate a good working relationship with Local 143. I am hopeful that we can come together to the table and work with the best interests of the City of Everett in mind.”
All of the charges against the city had to do with violations of section 2 of the collective bargaining law, which gives public employees the right to: engage in self-organization; form, join or assist any union; bargain collectively through representatives of their own choosing; at together for the purpose of collective bargaining or other mutual aid or protection; and to refrain from all of the above.
The Everett firefighters union’s most recent contract has expired and the union is attempting to negotiate a new (successor) contract.