Massachusetts Department of Labor Relations dismisses parts of Boston firefighters’ vaccine suit against city

The waters further muddied on Boston’s vaccination mandate front as the state Department of Labor Relations dismissed some of the complaints from public safety unions that the city had broken the law but has let the others continue.

Although DLR investigator Gail Sorokoff’s probable cause ruling in the International Association Fire Fighters Local 718 v. City case begins with: “Based on the evidence presented during this investigation, I find probable reason to believe that violations of the law have occurred. and, for the reasons stated below, dismiss the remaining allegations”, it focuses almost entirely on what it dismisses rather than finding violations.

The only time the ruling indicates there is sufficient evidence of wrongdoing is in the final footnote, when the investigator writes, “I find probable cause to believe that the city has rejected the on-station testing provision, which is addressed in the complaint in this case. ”

“Although the city was free to remove a testing option instead of vaccinations, the revised policy still requires testing for those who are being fully inoculated and those who are exempt from the vaccine requirement,” the decision, which is separate from the related case currently before the courts on this matter, states in this vein.

Sorokoff spends a lot more ink rejecting many of the union’s demands, writing that the decision to change the original memorandums of understanding and require vaccines was “a fundamental government decision.”

“The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, with new variants and increasing cases, coupled with the City’s interest in protecting the well-being of its employees and the public with whom they interact, and ensuring that there are enough personnel to provide vital public safety services, exempts the City from having to negotiate with the union on the decision to require vaccinations,” the investigator wrote.

This battle before the state is another front in the unions’ fight with Mayor Michelle Wu after, as the omicron variant surged this winter, she overturned the previously negotiated memorandum of understanding that only required testing negative coronaviruses and began requiring employees to be vaccinated. The decision sparked vociferous protests at City Hall and at his home – and led two judges to declare that unions have a head start on labor relations.

An appeals court judge barred the city from enforcing the rule as the court case, which includes the firefighters as well as the Boston Police Superior Officers Federation and the Boston Police Detectives Benevolent Society, moves forward.

Wu’s administration said, “This decision affirms the central role of city governments in protecting public health and safety.”

IAFF president John Soares said the local was “pleased with the partial upholding” of the complaint.

“Local 718 plans to appeal the rejected portion to the Commonwealth Employment Relations Board, which is standard practice and often successful,” Soares said, adding that the city’s firefighters’ union “is considering filing new complaints to the DLR for the continued poor state of the city”. – the negotiation of faith.

BPSOF President Jeanne Carroll said in a statement, “While not fully confirmed, today’s news confirms that the continued erosion of labor rights in the city will not last. The idea that employers are free to tear up agreements whenever a new mayor is elected should be of concern, not just to the parties involved, but to all union members across the Commonwealth.

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