By Bungling Board
Off-duty Springfield, Vt.
police officers and fellow members of UE Local 218 picket the Town Hall to protest the
Selectmens rejection of their contract.
Off-duty Springfield police officers who are members of amalgamated UE
Local 218 protested the Board of Selectmens rejection of their first contract with
an informational picket line on April 14. They were joined by Fellows Corp. and Bryant
Grinder workers who are also Local 218 members.
Police officers ratified their first-ever contract on Feb. 26, nearly a
year to the day after they voted for UE representation. They were understandably angry
when the Board of Selectmen unexpectedly declared their contract "unacceptable."
Two officers in Town Hall on the evening of April 13 were stunned when
Board Chairman John Follett read a letter to UE Local 218 indicating the selectmen still
had "a number of concerns with the proposed contract" and were seeking answers
from the towns negotiator. (The union had not received the letter and would not
until 3 p.m. the following day.)
The negotiator Follett referred to was Laurence Wood, hired through the
Vermont League of Cities and Towns to negotiate the towns four contracts. Only one
contract negotiated by Wood has been approved by the Board of Selectmen.
When asked by UE negotiators, Wood assured the union that he had full
authority from the Board of Selectmen to negotiate. So did town officials.
"The town hired an outside negotiator, gave him authority to bargain
a contract, and now claims they tried and failed to get their questions
answered," said Local 218 in a statement. The town is acting in bad faith and holding
the police contract hostage, the union said. "We are willing to clear up any
unanswered questions, but first we must be aware there are questions."
Police a Mob?
In response to the Selectmens meeting, police officers and fellow UE
members from Bryant and Fellows rallied outside Town Hall the following day. And since
Town Hall is across the street from the law offices of Selectman Douglas Richards, the UE
members marched over to pay him a visit. Richards told them he wouldnt speak to
"a mob" and demanded they "disperse." However, he then came outside
and spoke with Sgt. John Esposito, a negotiating team member, and Field Org. Rachel
At the Board of Selectmens meeting on April 16 UE members called for
resumption of negotiations and exposed the failure of negotiator Woods to keep the board