Close to 100 firefighters, many of them members of Everett Firefighters Local 143 picketed Mayor Carlo DeMaria Monday night, prior to and during the Board of Aldermen’s meeting, with support of union firefighters from outside of the city, as the Everett firefighters took contract negotiations public.
“This picket is about the total lack of respect the Mayor has for Everett firefighters and the state law,” said Craig Hardy, president of the Everett Firefighters Local 143 in a statement released prior to the picket. “This picket is NOT about money or any financial proposals the city has offered during current negotiations, rather it is about Mayor DeMaria’s tactics during negotiations.”
Hardy also rose to address the Board of Aldermen and again stated that the firefighters’ complaints were not with any offer that was made at the bargaining table, but instead alleged that the Mayor had attempted to threaten and intimidate the union during negotiations. The release from the union also stated that , “after conducting an investigation, the Massachusetts Department of Labor Relations has found probable cause to charge the city with five (5) violations of law during negotiations and more charges are expected to be issued this week.“
The Mayor, the union says, has threatened to terminate the firefighters contract for the first time in the history of the city.
However, in response to the picket and the allegations made by the union, Mayor DeMaria said only that he expects the two sides to work out their disagreements at the bargaining table.
“During the negotiation period my administration has been working diligently and in good faith with representatives of Firefighters Local 143 in the effort to modernize the current firefighter contract. It is my goal to find an equitable solution to our shared challenges while maintaining the high level of public safety services to the residents of the city of Everett. I am confident that with Local 143 returning to the negotiating table, both sides will be able to achieve their respective goals,” said Mayor DeMaria.
The Everett Union’s complaints have also attracted the support and attention of the Professional Firefighters of Massachusetts President Edward A. Kelly, the former, longtime President of the Boston Firefighters Union, which famously had staged similar pickets against Boston Mayor Thomas Menino, during contentious negotiations in Boston.
Kelly was on hand and seated beside Hardy during the Board of Aldermen’s meeting, though he did not make any statements Kelly is the current President of the Professional Firefighters of Massachusetts (PFFM), a state organization representing more than 12,000 firefighters across the state.