Over the past few months, tensions over vaccine mandates have been on the rise among the City of Boston’s First Responders Unions and the Mayor’s Office. Starting under the Janey administration unions, including the union that represents the sworn officers of the Boston Police Department — the Boston Police Patrolmen’s Association, have been battling the vaccine mandate. By early December, under the Wu administration, memorandums of agreements, also referred to as MOAs had been reached with almost all public safety unions.
Then on December 20th, Mayor Wu made an about face announcement, mandating all City of Boston employees be forced to be vaccinated or face termination. This change in policy, and what many City unions are calling a violation of their labor rights and MOAs, seemingly brought most, but not all of the unions together. The stand alone union, that chose to not fight this overreach tooth and nail, was the Boston Police Patrolman’s Association or BPPA.
Instead, under the leadership of Union President Larry Calderone — who’s name you may have heard from when he sued a State Police Horse, chose their own path. The Union hired “experts” to explain to their members the pit-falls of fighting the mandate, pushing to work with the City. This drew criticism from not just their own members, but from unions across the City. A letter sent by Boston Firefights Local 718, Boston Police Superior Officers, and Boston Police Detectives harshly critiqued President Calderone going as far to call his actions, “anti-labor”.
Most recently, the BPPA has drawn sharp criticism for the proposed MOA that they presented to their membership over this past weekend. After weeks of working with the Wu administration, BPPA leadership reached what they called in an internal email, “the best and final offer.”
The proposal outlines an agreement between Wu and the BPPA in which all members must be vaccinated, in exchange for a measly two days off that expire at the end of 2022. Additionally, the agreement releases the City of all responsibility for wrong doing. The agreement does go on to stipulate rehiring of officers who resign due to the mandate, something that is already possible for officers who resign in good standing and look to rejoin the department.
In response to this proposal, not only did BPPA members push back, the union which represents Boston Police Supervisors began a bold social media campaign, poking holes in the City’s offer. In posts on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter the Supervisors stated, “we believe our agreements, our members, and our collective bargaining rights are worth much more than what the BPPA is trying to settle for. The BPPA and its members have every right to accept this MOA. WE WON’T.”
Yesterday, sources close to Live Boston informed us that a petition to recall the BPPA Leadership was circulating and was nearly 70% complete. One member, who is vaccinated, we spoke to said, “we can not stand by and allow our President to put his personal feelings for our Mayor before the welfare of our brothers and sisters. They have had our backs and answered our calls for help and it’s time we do the same.” In a shocking turn of events, late last night an email was sent to BPPA House Representatives from BPPA Vice President Richard Withington in which resigned his position effective immediately.
In the email, in which he tendered his resignation, Withington explained, “I cannot sit back and say that I agree with the cities new MOA any longer… I feel I truly now understand how everyone feels. I truly care and do not want any Officer’s to face termination for something they believe in so strongly.” Union insiders who we spoke to say they see this as the first domino in what could be a complete shift and change in BPPA Leadership.
As chaos continues to swirl within the halls of the Patrolmen’s Union, other public safety unions continue their efforts to fight the impending mandate, which they have successfully pressured City Hall into delaying twice. With scheduled protests and picket lines, including tonight at the Governor’s State of the Commonwealth from Boston Firefighters Local 718, and a mounting social media campaign from the Superior Officers Federation, the current weaknesses of the Patrolmen’s Association seem to not be slowing the efforts of the other unions.
Spokesman for the Boston Police patrolman association declined to comment.