Joint Labor-Management Committee marks 40 years

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This year marks the 40th anniversary of the Joint Labor-Management Committee, which was created to facilitate the resolution of disputes over collective bargaining agreements between municipalities and labor unions representing professional firefighters and police officers.
 
The committee has equal representation from management and labor, with four members from municipal management and two members each from municipal police and fire unions, plus alternates. There are also management, fire and police chairs.
 
Chatham Town Manager Jill Goldsmith is the management chair. The state employs senior staff representatives for both labor and management, and Daniel Morgado, the former town manager in Shrewsbury, and George Driscoll, a former associate town counsel in Brookline, share a full-time position for management.
 
Goldsmith, Morgado and Driscoll are focusing on training and management membership on the committee.
 
On the management side, the MMA has recommended for appointment Lisa Yanakakis, the assistant town manager and human resources director in Weston, and Kathleen Johnson, the assistant city manager and human resources director in Worcester.
 
Upon confirmation, they would be working under policy changes intended to make the petition process run more smoothly. Under the new rules, parties must submit the following: a current collective bargaining agreement or the last two memoranda of understanding, ground rules (preferably signed), the number of bargaining sessions in which the parties engaged, any tentative agreements, and on-the-record proposals related to issues in dispute.
 
The committee is chaired by John Hanson, whom the MMA has recommended for reappointment.
 
The MMA has played a significant role in the JLMC since its inception. Following years of dispute over a 1974 law that made binding arbitration the method for resolving collective bargaining disputes in Massachusetts, the Massachusetts League of Cities and Towns (the precursor of the MMA) organized an initiative petition process to repeal binding arbitration, an effort that prompted unions to negotiate toward a compromise. The parties engaged Harvard professor and former U.S. Labor Secretary John Dunlop to help, and Dunlop created the JLMC. Attorney D.M. Moschos of Mirick O’Connell drafted the legislation to establish the JLMC.
 
The original purpose of the committee was to harness alternative resolution methods, like mediation, to resolve contract disputes, with binding arbitration as a last resort. Proposition 2½, which passed in 1980, repealed the binding arbitration statute, and the following year, the Supreme Judicial Court held that the JLMC could no longer use binding arbitration to resolve contract disputes.
 
In 1987, the Legislature passed a law allowing the JLMC to use binding arbitration to settle disputes after the process of collective bargaining has been exhausted, with the requirement that town meeting or the city council must vote to accept the arbitration award.