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In new vaccine-mandate beef, firefighters union accuses police union head of being the lowest of the low, yes, anti-union; police union says, guys, wait, it's all a misunderstanding

The unions that represent Boston firefighters, police detectives and police superior officers suddenly have major beef with the union that represents police rank and file over the best way to contest Mayor Wu's vaccine mandate, which goes into effect on Saturday.

Yesterday, after news broke that a Suffolk Superior Court judge decided, in a suit brought by the unions representing firefighters. detectives and police superior officers, not to block the start of the vaccine requirement, the Boston Police Patrolmen's Association, which represents rank-and-file police officers, and which was not part of the suit, tweeted:

Suffolk Superior Court denies bid by first responders to block Mayor Wu’s vaccine mandate. Said Judge Jeffrey Locke: “The public health emergency outweighs claims of harm by plaintiffs.” Meantime, BPPA continues to bargain in good faith.

The heads of the three unions, on the stationery of Local 718, which represents firefighters, quickly blasted the tweet as "anti union" and accused BPPA President Larry Calderone of shivving union members everywhere. In addition to the tweet, the three union heads accused Calderone of sending a separate, private e-mail message to his members that suggested that "our actions in filing a lawsuit will somehow diminish your bargaining rights at the table."

In their letter, Local 718 president John Soares, superior-officers President Jeanne Carrol and detectives' President Donald Caisey used words to describe Calderone that they would normally reserve for hostile management, such as "anti-labor," "disturbing" and "insulting."

We will not apologize for defending the rights of our members. We will not apologize for filing actions to enforce settlement agreements signed by the City, including those signed by Mayor Wu. The BPPA has repeatedly sought injunctions against the JLMC, municipal police transfers and body-worn cameras. Local 718 did not criticize or judge the BPPA's actions and the two other police unions stood in solidarity. We believe that every union has the right to pursue this option, not just the BPPA.

The BPPA, under your leadership, apparently believes that it is acceptable for the City to ignore agreements that they enter into with their unions. It is evident that the BPPA has taken sides with City Hall. If this is the strategy that the BPPA has chosen to protect its members' collective barraging [sic] rights, it should in no way serve as a criticism of any union who invokes its right to seek relief in the court for an unfair labor practice. Boston Firefighters Local 718, Boston Police Superior Officers Federation and Boston Police Detectives Benevolent Society will continue to fight on behalf of the over 2,500 members we proudly represent with or without the support of the BPPA and Larry Calderone.

Earlier today, the BPPA tweeted a clarification:

The attached tweet was never intended to offend. In fact, quite the contrary. It was a point of fact shared to inform our members that, although the injunction by others had been denied, the BPPA effort continues through dialogue and impact bargaining w/the City.

Under the city's new mandate, all employees have to show proof of at least one Covid-19 shot by Saturday. By Feb. 15, all employees will have to prove full vaccination: Two doses of the Moderna or Pfizer vaccines or one of the J & J vaccine.

City officials say the rapid spread of the omicron variant has rendered the city's earlier agreement with unions to let employees either get vaccinated or submit weekly negative tests untenable in a city where Covid-19 test positivity rates have risen from 0.4% in June to 31% now. With such a fast-spreading variant, weekly testing is no longer enough to protect other city workers and the public with whom employees interact, sometimes in very close contact, officials argue.

As judges have done with similar lawsuits from other public-employee unions, Judge Jeffrey Locke said that while the three unions could continue to pursue their lawsuit, he would not block implementation of the mandate while the case wends its way through court, ruling that the city has a right to take steps to keep itself in operation and that the public-health concerns around a fast spreading, potentially deadly disease outweigh the collective-bargaining rights of union members in this case.

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Comments

I'm tired more than I Have been in 2 years.

Really just tired of this crap.

I refused to believe our country was over in 2016.. but I am seriously thinking this now. We're done. Our country, our politicians, our government, and yes.. our society is too broken to even attempt to fix. All we're doing now is trying to plug holes on the Titanic at this point. This ship is gonna sink no matter what. And unfortunately there won't be Celine Dion to sing to us at the end.

Every Single Day I inch closer and closer to believing this as fact, hoping for some inching back. But there is none..

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Every day I see people doing their best, making a difference in the lives of others. It’s there if you look for it. I understand you are going through a rough patch, and perhaps that’s coloring your views on life.

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not only anyone going through a rough patch but with all those who are trying to change the world for the better, so I get why you may want to push back against cybah's hyperbole that "our society is too broken to even attempt to fix it." There are times, though, that hyperbole is necessary to bring home a point, especially when SCOTUS has clearly announced it is a partisan appendage, rather than a separate branch of government, by overturning the vaccine mandate for companies, which neither employers nor employees had to pay for (if that partisanship hadn't already clear from the Court's refusal to consider the unconstitutionality of the Texas abortion ban). And then you get State Unions claiming it is anti-labor for anyone even to consider slighting (which the BPAA didn't, by the way) their idiotic lawsuit against a mandate to protect public health.

You know what is anti-labor? Forcing millions of Americans to go to work without assurance from negligent employers that they are provided adequate protection from a disease that is still pandemic. That is what SCOTUS has done. The rhetoric of the three unions above is a travesty and a distortion of what labor history has fought for.

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Yesterday that the Supreme Court signaled that the federal government does not have the right to regulate anything basically. So clean water protections, clean air, anti-discrimination policies - that's all going to be gone in 10 years. Corporations will be able to operate with impunity and you will not be able to stop that through government action.

But what about getting the court back so we can get contrary rulings? Not going to happen because two senators decided to switch parties effectively to protect the minority party's ability to gerrymander and rig elections starting in 2022 with impunity. It's a wrap on any kind of judicial reform. Look at places like WI which are fairly purple in terms of the electorate but the Trumpers have used the power of gerrymandered districts to gut actual democracy. That's the locked in future our kids face. Sure, they could protest but look how that worked out in Belarus, Hong Kong, etc... Democracy requires commitment to sustain and as a nation, we don't have it in us.

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It is a struggle and history is full of these struggles. The general public just has no clue.

MLK Day is a huge example. It seems rather non controversial now but we can't forget he was killed for his message. History looks like we were always on the same side struggling for the same thing but that is just glossing over of the history. It has always been messy and then this too will be turned into some little opera that 10 year olds recite in fifty years as part of a report on the great pandemic.

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I was loudly and vehemently insisting to everyone I knew in 2016 that it was the beginning of the final chapter of the American experiment (it started before that but that was the nail in the coffin). I had so so many people telling me I was just being a cynical pessimist, which I am, but it doesn't mean I'm wrong.

Yeah all those Pollyanna's are more and more shaken with every news story about our country and every conversation that it comes up everyone is surer we're done.

We're heading towards The Troubles like ethno nationalist conflict or a full on authoritarian oligarchil dictatorship that then devolves into a full on Balkanization, and thats if climate change doesn't get us first.

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What a bunch of clowns.

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Great. Why am I worrying that soon there will be a strike of BFD and BPD, or if not, old fashioned stubbornness getting in the way of doing their jobs?

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One of those holdovers from the 1919 Boston police strike.

Slowdown? Work to rule? Maybe, but let's remember that most first responders in Boston are, in fact, vaccinated.

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This is part of what’s so frustrating, a teeny tiny minority of unvaccinated dumb dumbs, and the unions take their side. The dumb dumbs and the union have a strong incentive to take that position, the rest have little incentive to push back.

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would anyone really be able to tell the difference?

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... traffic law enforcement.

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... traffic law enforcement.

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BPPA is right to be bargaining under good faith. If they don't, management has the right to impose, after this decision.

Sure, a miracle can happen and 718 and the Superior Officers would look good in holding out, but otherwise, they won't be doing the job they are supposed to be doing- representing their members in negotiations with the city over working conditions.

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If the mayor’s office made it obligatory to breathe using air, the union should probably just allow that rule without demanding more money.

If the mayor’s office indicated that officers are no longer allowed to light their pants on fire, the union should probably just allow that rule without demanding more money.

If the mayor’s office made it obligatory for officers to be vaccinated against measles, mumps, and rubella, the union should probably just allow that rule without demanding more money.

You can probably see where I’m going with this.

Anyway, they do a disservice to their members by making a farce of their commitment to public safety. I vaguely remember a recent set of protests that suggested maybe officers should protect and serve, rather than parading around like a sovereign army separate and above the law. Many officers were very insulted—they want to be recognized for their hard work. And, I suspect, they want that recognition *more* than they want to add to their already extremely generous compensation.

Telling the public you don’t care if they get Covid is a great way to lose the sought-after recognition and respect of the community. The union bosses don’t need to do this; it ill-serves their members.

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That’s a different form of bargaining.

I’m going to assume you’ve never been in a union. The thing about unions is that they bargain about wages AND working conditions. In this case, the issue is the impact of the change on the working conditions of members of the union. I’ll just use your first example to show this. Let’s say that the mayor says that every city employee needs to wear an N95 mask while working. Well, who is going to be responsible for buying those masks, the worker or the employer? How will fitting be done? What if the worker forgets to bring the mask in to work with them? Will they be issued another mask?

I will say this about the unions’ stance on this. Wu did not act in good faith. The city had negotiated an agreement on vaccines with the unions. A week later, they announced a policy change. Now, the change can be justified, but the union has a point in being upset.

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YIMBY’s point still stands. These unions can decide what to fight and not. Nobody buys that this is about bargaining, it’s standing up for a few yahoos and it’s is a bad look.

That said, of course, public safety unions do this all the time — they hide their pedophiles in leadership positions, they defend racist, brutal thugs who give all cops a black eye.

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Because YIMBY doesn’t understand the difference between contract bargaining and impact bargaining. He or she definitely noted that it is about money. It isn’t. Now, I’m not going to get into the issue of whether there is a valid reason to oppose this, as my original comment was solely based on the idea of bargaining in good faith, which is what the BPPA is attempting to do, per their statement.

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Fine, you’re right, there are two arguments here. There’s one about work rules and bargaining. You’re using that argument to dodge the other, more important argument, which is about the terrible optics of a union fighting for its members’ rights to get themselves, their colleagues and the public sick. These unions have a choice, and as YIMBY says:

Telling the public you don’t care if they get Covid is a great way to lose the sought-after recognition and respect of the community. The union bosses don’t need to do this; it ill-serves their members.

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Which is that the BPPA is doing what it is supposed to do when it comes to impact bargaining. That’s what the story that Adam was so kind as to share with us is about. The BPPA is looking to bargain about this change, not prevent it, given the court decision.

And judging by the City’s latest move, it would appear that both parties are acting in good faith to bargain the impacts. That’s good labor relations.

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Nationwide 458 law enforcement people died in the line of duty in 2021. 301 of those (over two third) “have been identified as caused by covid” -link to source below. This happened even though the vaccine was largely available to these folks starting early last year.

Union representatives are elected by their members to represent them. The public safety union’s tooth and nail fight against the covid vaccine mandate and attempted extortion is a very clear representation of who these people are and what they stand for.

https://www.npr.org/2022/01/12/1072411820/law-enforcement-deaths-2021-covid

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in the line of duty, FROM COVID, than all causes of police line of duty deaths in 2020 (295). For further context, in 2021, 62 officers were killed by firearms and 58 deaths involve vehicles. American police officers were 5 times more likely to die from COVID than from getting shot or being killed in a vehicular collision.

I've never been a member of a union, but I thought one of the big things unions fought for was the protection of it's members from dangerous working conditions.

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It has often, and rightly, been pointed out that police officers who refuse vaccination are endangering both the public and themselves. These statistics, however, demonstrate that they are also endangering fellow officers, with whom they are in constant contact. Perhaps this should be emphasized more strongly; that vaccine mandates are necessary to protect police officers from the irresponsible behavior of a small number of their comrades. They protect us, we should protect them.

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Real unions do fight for better conditions. Police unions are basically just for getting bad cops desk jobs somewhere else.

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This happened even though the vaccine was largely available to these folks starting early last year.

Let's not forget that they were given priority for access to the vaccine over many other groups. They were pretty much at the head of the line and eligible to get vaccinated well in advance of the general population or many vulnerable groups.

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Since the Supreme Court has decided that COVID-19 isn't a workplace hazard, clearly any law enforcement deaths attributed to COVID-19 can't be "in the line of duty" because that would mean their lack of protection from it would have been work-related....

So I guess the good news is that only 157 LEOs died in the line of duty last year?

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In a previous story, there was reference to a lieutenants' union. I asked why there is such a thing. Now I'm hearing about a superior officers' union. Maybe it's the same thing. In any case, why is there a union for management? Is this more police exceptionalism, like NEMLEC supposedly not being a publicly-funded organization?

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It is the concept of the "work" that these employees do. Federal labor law has definitions for what makes up someone who is eligible for this. Someone who supervises at the "work" level like a police supervisor is different than a police manager who doesn't "supervise" or "work" as those at the lower levels might. A police lieutenant is eligible for overtime and therefore falls under federal guidelines (FSLA)

There are some police unions I know who include everyone except the highest level manager (usually a chief).

If you google "police FSLA" there is a bunch of stuff there to explain it better than I can.

Not all sworn police employees are subject to these overtime rules. If an employee is classified as “exempt,” they are typically salaried and not eligible for overtime. Most of these are management/executive level employees. Police management employees generally fight to remain non-exempt so that they are eligible for overtime pay, but once a position has been classified as exempt, it’s difficult to get it re-classified to hourly.

To be considered an exempt employee, the employee must be paid at least $23,600 per year and perform mainly management/executive duties. They must regularly supervise at least two other employees, have management as their primary duty, and have genuine job input (hiring, firing, promotion, or assignment) into the jobs of others.

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Exempt (ineligible for overtime) is a separate issue from being nonunion. There are plenty of exempt government jobs that are union.

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I am an exempt employee, and I can't fire anyone! I could probably get myself fired, but I don't think that counts.

Maybe there is some kind of general public-interest exemption, kind of like religious exemption. I am an engineer, and if engineers were not exempt, and employers were required to pay them overtime, the entire US economy would collapse.

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https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/International_Union_of_Operating_Engineers

Call them up and see what they can do for you!

(my post above was more about overtime and pay, which is a little different from the right to unionize)

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However, Section 13(a)(1) of the FLSA provides an exemption from both minimum wage and overtime pay for employees employed as bona fide executive, administrative, professional and outside sales employees. Section 13(a)(1) and Section 13(a)(17) also exempt certain computer employees.

(source)

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Reminds me of the rugby scene in the Departed when Matt Damon playing a police officer gives the firefighters the finger and screams "Go save a cat in a tree you f***kin hom**s.

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The vaccine mandate will be pushed out one week. Karyn Regal from WBZ radio just tweeted a statement from the mayor's office will come soon.

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The city workers mandate is working. Since just last Monday 700 additional workers have made themselves — and their colleagues and families, and the public — less vulnerable to infection, transmission, severe illness and death from COVID. Thank you, 700 city workers!

https://www.wgbh.org/news/politics/2022/01/14/mayor-wu-extends-vaccinati...

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Since just last Monday 700 additional workers have made themselves — and their colleagues and families, and the public — less vulnerable to infection, transmission, severe illness and death from COVID.

Yes -- and I would bet that most of those workers are not antivax, probably not even slightly opposed to the vaccine, but just hadn't gotten it yet for a variety of less problematic reasons. The mandate gave them a nudge and a deadline to do something they didn't really have a problem with.

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