April Fool's Day Joke a Day Early

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April Fool's Day Joke a Day Early

Postby mike_flynn on Sun Mar 31, 2013 11:36 am

This has to be some sort of pre-April Fool’s Day joke.

Let alone working on a long term solution, who would you want meeting with the firefighters union to cool things down in the interim?

David Gay:
* President at Research Development & Technical Employees' union.
* Member of Tewksbury’s Personnel Relations Review Board.

Scott Wilson (from http://www.scottwilsontewksbury.com):
* “His diverse career has provided Wilson with extensive experience in operations, budgeting, union relations and customer service.”
* “His ability to bring people together to reach a common goal has allowed him great success both professionally and personally.”

Anne Marie Stronach:
* Director of Human Resources for the Lawrence School Department.
* Director of Nutrition Services for the Lawrence School Department.

Todd Johnson (from http://www.toddjohnsonselectman.com):
* “I have worked hard to be respectful, tolerant, inclusionary, and a consensus builder.”
* “I feel strongly that we must have a steady hand on the wheel, maintain a disciplined approach, work together to address our issues, and continue to take the view that we are all in this together as opposed to a divide and conquer attitude.”

Doug Sears:
* Described $100,000 in FY10 concessions made by the Tewksbury Firefighters Local 1647 to keep the south fire station open longer as "rinky dink".
* Local 1647 recently wrote “You don’t have to search long or hard to find multiple, negative, and unwarranted comments directed at the Tewksbury Fire Fighters by Selectman Sears”.

Tewksbury, firefighters try to cool rhetoric
By Katie Lannan, klannan@lowellsun.comlowellsun.com
Updated: 03/31/2013 06:36:31 AM EDT

TEWKSBURY -- After an exchange of pointed open letters arguing who's to blame for the potential closure of the South Street fire station, town government and firefighters union are hoping for calmer talks on a related contract provision.

"Hopefully there may be a change in tone," Selectman Doug Sears said. "There's no change in the positions of either party. Nothing has changed there, but it gives a better atmosphere for the discussion."

Last month, a representative of the town's firefighters union released an open letter, calling on residents to fight to keep the South Street fire station from closing in the face of an underfunded budget. The letter also suggested that there was little firefighters could do to keep the station open and criticized Town Manager Richard Montuori for not making fire safety a priority.

Now, the town government has responded.

"The Board of Selectmen and the Town Manager do not close the station," Montuori wrote in a letter signed onto by each member of the board of selectmen. "Rather, a provision in the union contract, which the Union is unwilling to change, is forcing the closing of the station when we drop below our 12 person complement."

Article 23 of the union contract spells out the staffing at each station, for a total of 12 firefighters per shift.

It also stipulates that the chief's first recourse in times of financial constraint will the closing of a substation, rather than the reshuffling of staff.

Montuori and the selectmen unanimously oppose this requirement.

With 32 full-time firefighters on the department's roster, overtime is used to fill a position whenever an employee is out, injured or on vacation. The south station closes on a shift-by-shift basis when overtime funding and personnel levels are too low for all outposts to be fully manned.

Montuori said the town government understands that a complement of 12 per shift is the best operational model. Working with less than that is no different than a tight budget mandating five or six police officers on a shift when the department wants there to be 10, a shortfall that's happened "on many occasions," he said.

The best deployment of staff and other resources, the town contends, should be left up to the fire chief.

"If the manning clause were out and the chief makes the same decision as if the manning clause were in there, that's OK with me," Sears said. "I'm fine with that because then the chief and the other department heads can all talk about it with the town manager."

Last weekend Sears met with Jim Giasullo, who had been installed earlier that morning as the new president of the Tewksbury Firefighters Local 1647. The two discussed their concerns over breakfast at Donna's Donuts.

Sears said it was an important gesture. An outspoken critic of the station-closure clause, he said this is the first time a member of the firefighters union has reached out and asked to hear his thoughts.

"We essentially broke bread," Sears said. "We broke doughnuts together."

Giasullo declined to comment, saying he's "trying to cool things down" in what's been a heated discussion and would prefer to wait until contract negotiations have concluded.

Montuori's recommended fiscal 2014 budget for the Fire Department is $4,290,479, including $363,643 for overtime.

The overtime account is about $350,000 short of what the department would need to keep all three stations open all year with its current procedures. The firefighters union's initial letter suggested making up the gap with a transfer from the town's stabilization fund.

Town leadership maintains that's not the answer and calls for looking beyond a quick-fix.

"Using the Stabilization Fund to solve a recurring operating budget expense is a one year band-aid, is the easy way out, and is short sighted," Montuori's letter reads. "It simply pushes the problem down the road without addressing the fundamental financial issue."

Sears said while both sides are still firm in their positions, there's a hope now that open attitudes on both sides mean an agreement can be reached in the bargaining process.

"It was very good timing. This is Easter time," Sears, a Unitarian Universalist minister, said of his meeting with Giasullo. "The Lord is working in mysterious ways."

Follow Katie Lannan on twitter @katielannan.
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Re: April Fool's Day Joke a Day Early

Postby dougsears on Thu May 09, 2013 10:26 pm


None of the above would be wearing a wire!

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