November 4, 2010 13:06
It was a parting shot heard around the Chelsea Fire Department in Massachusetts last week.
The department’s fire chief suddenly retired, but not before he brought up disciplinary charges for nearly every fire fighter and fire officer.
So what’s the offense? Former Chelsea Fire Chief Herbert Fothergill says that all but one fire fighter in the department refused to wear a winter uniform that consisted of a button down shirt.
A hearing is scheduled for this week.
Fothergill, a third generation fire fighter in Chelsea, retired October 31.
The Boston Globe reported members of Local 937 decided not to wear the uniforms out of a symbolic gesture.
Lieutenant Brian Capistran, the president of Local 937, told the Boston Globe that members are “fed up.”
Capistran tells the Frontline Blog that the issue has nothing to do with a button down shirt.
“We’re tired of being disrespected. It’s everything that’s led up to October 1, 2010,” says Capistran.
Fothergill’s retirement brings an end to a very rocky relationship with Local 937.
In September 2009, the local union voted “no confidence” in the chief’s handling of over- time pay.
In addition, the union has filed almost 10 grievances that have gone into arbitration over the past two years.
Capistran says,” We hand-delivered a detailed letter to the chief and sent a copy to City Manager Jay Ash outlining our issues with the way he managed the department and the hostile work environment he created, with intimidation and threatening tactics."
Capistran said the no confidence letter was sent on September 13, 2010 with a commitment by the city and the chief to work out issues, but that never happened.
“That is why we took a stance,” Capistran says.
Could nearly all the members of your department be written up on an issue like this? Share your thoughts with the Frontline blog here.