One Big Union, 2/9/08.

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Firefighters want no talk of drug tests in contract (Boston Herald) Feb. 8 – The city’s quest to force on firefighters hit a snag yesterday as their union sought to keep mandatory screening off the negotiating table.

The Boston Firefighters Union Local 718 argued that the issue should be barred from discussions before the three-member Joint Labor-Management Committee for Municipal Police and Fire because it was not included in the city’s original contract proposal.

The city countered that the state-appointed board has routinely ruled on contractual issues not included in original filings.

Both sides met with the JLMC on Beacon Hill yesterday when the board voted to oversee the negotiations. The panel, which is chaired by retired Judge Samuel Zoll, took no position on whether to allow the testing issue into talks, although one member, Massachusetts Professional Firefighters Association president Robert McCarthy, pledged to keep it out of discussions.

The rest here.

Police union alleges unfair labor practice (Times-Tribune, Scanton, PA) Feb. 8 – Lawyers for the city’s police union have filed an unfair-labor-practice charge against city administrators for allegedly releasing details of a contract offer made in December.

The five-page, 46-point complaint to Patricia Crawford, of the state Labor Relations Board, confirms the details of a contract proposal reported by The Times-Tribune last month, but contends that the parties were not close to agreement on the terms and that city officials should not have disclosed it…

A spokesman for the Labor Relations Board said the complaint had not yet been registered and therefore he could not comment. The union complaint does not seek specific damages, but such charges can often result in fines if proven.

The complaint’s premise is a union allegation that The Times-Tribune is a supporter of Mayor Chris Doherty and is used by the mayor to further an agenda against city unions.

In the complaint, a copy of which was obtained by The Times-Tribune on Thursday, the union lawyers wrote that the newspaper reported “false claims” by the administration that the bargaining committee for the union had agreed in principal to the terms of a new collective bargaining agreement.

“In fact, the city knew that nothing could be further from the truth,” union attorney Stephen J. Holroyd said in the document.

City officials said they were merely responding to union President Anne Marie Stulgis’ public claims that nothing was offered.

The rest here.

Union’s big rat joins protest at Kingston (Allentown PA Morning Call) Feb. 8 – A $200 million upgrade at Keystone Cement, one of the biggest construction projects in Northampton County, has reopened years-old conflicts between unions and nonunion contractors – and drawn out a local union’s giant inflatable rat.

Three weeks ago, the beady-eyed rat that Lehigh Valley Carpenters Union Local 600 has toted to dozens of Lehigh Valley construction projects, showed up at Keystone’s East Allen Township plant. The group routinely pickets when union officials believe contractors are paying below-market wages to out-of-state or foreign workers.

”It hurts,” said union representative Jose Cruz of Tamaqua. Out-of-state contractors ”come into this area and lower the standards and the wages,” he said, standing on the picket line next to Route 329.

”It hurts,” said union representative Jose Cruz of Tamaqua. Out-of-state contractors ”come into this area and lower the standards and the wages,” he said, standing on the picket line next to Route 329.

The rest here.

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