The Carlisle Mosquito Online

Friday, July 31, 2009

Selectmen table grievance issue until August

With the ink barely dry on the new town contract addressing the rights of the communications dispatch employees, the Carlisle Selectmen have 30 days to address the first grievance under the contract elevated to their level. The issue concerns pay rates for leave time, which includes vacations or such things as time excused for bereavement.

Head Dispatcher Michael Taplin prepares the communications payroll, and in mid-June he received a verbal and then written notice by Police Chief John Sullivan that dispatch employees should only receive the higher night shift rate for time actually worked. Taplin had been paying the higher night rate for leave time as well. This was in accordance with the “Town of Carlisle Personnel Policies” documentation which had been used by the communications personnel for “approximately 12 years” according to a letter to the Selectmen from John Greenhow, President of Local 201A, the police union encompassing the unit.

As documented in Article 20 of the contract, relating to grievances, Dispatcher Timothy Guild, the employee raising the pay-rate issue, had appealed the Police Chief’s edict verbally to department heads which included Sullivan and the Fire Chief David Flannery on June 26. When Sullivan and Flannery did not change their position, Guild contacted Town Administrator Madonna McKenzie in writing on July 10. She also denied the grievance using the current contract as the guide, and wrote “that because the contract is the document we must follow, the decision of the Department Heads (Chief Sullivan and Chief Flannery) is correct. Under the new contract no past practice has occurred.”

The Selectmen subsequently received written notification in a letter signed by Guild, the grievant, and from Greenhow, representing the union. The letter states that because the payroll had used the night pay for leave for 12 years, and as the town did not “bring this matter up during contract negotiations” they felt they were correct to consider use of the rate to be “past practice” and enforceable. The Selectmen produced the grievance letter at the July 28 public meeting, their first opportunity to do so, and scheduled a hearing for the board’s August 25 meeting. If the Selectmen deny the grievance, the union may request outside arbitration. ∆

© 2009 The Carlisle Mosquito