Article

FIRESTORM OVER FIRE DEPARTMENT DISCLOSURE; UNION CONFIRMS IT REJECTED CITY’S OFFER OF A 4 PERCENT PAY HIKE, AT ISSUE: RANDOM DRUG TESTING

By DAN VALENTI

PLANET VALENTI News and Commentary

(FORTRESS OF SOLITUDE, WEDNESDAY, AUG. 10, 2011) — First up this morning is a bit of business resembling more a hive upset following yesterday’s post that (we can only assume from the reaction) The Little Guy wasn’t supposed to know.

THE PLANET refers to this little item, tucked away within several other non-related stories:

Fire Department Stalls on City’s Four Percent Pay Hike

THE PLANET heard from a reliable source that the Pittsfield Fire Department’s unionized employees rejected a four percent pay hike offered by the city in exchange for random drug testing. According to our source, Mayor Jimmy Ruberto got so tired of the union’s hemming and hawing that he withdrew the offer.

Our source well familiar with fire department procedures, protocols, and personnel said that “if the city pulled random drug testing, half the department would fail.”

So, are up to half of Pittsfield fire fighters druggies or substance-dependent? Is Mother Nature in the air and steroids in the punch? It seems so, after our not so random pool of internal sources. We will be more than willing to hear the other side of the story, even if it involves many clouds of sweet smelling smoke pouring through the door when it’s opened. We’re sure it won’t be a fire.

—– o o o —–

In response, we received this post from “Pittsfield Jake.”

Pittsfield Jake

August 9, 2011 at 5:54 pm # Edit

Come on Dan, I expect a little bit more from you. First off, the Pittsfield Fire Fighters did Not reject the cities contract offer. The Right Honorable Mayor pulled it off the table. The Union Membership just wanted clarification on several issues. The terms of all newly negotiated agreements where painted with a very narrow brush. The wording was scribbled in the margins. We as a Union asked for clarification on several issues.

As for your comment that over half of the Pittsfield Fire Department are Drug Users, that just goes to show how low you will sink to raise your stature among those who matter most to you, yourself. Man up and name this so called “reliable” source. Our Union bargained in good faith a drug policy. The terms of which were extremely vague. We as a collective bargaining unit simply asked of a detailed policy. It was a scant two weeks from when the contract was proposed until the Mayor yanked it. Several members were on vacation and unavailable to read the contract. But Dan, You stirred the Pot as you do so well. Unfortunately your Pot is empty so go back in the kitchen and fetch a new batch of Grizzle……..

—– o o o —–

It’s interesting to note that “Pittsfield Jake” wants to know the name of my source but he himself does not use his real name. Why?

THE PLANET replied thusly:

danvalenti

August 9, 2011 at 7:10 pm # Edit

PJAKE
Thanks for the feedback and information. I asked my source if I could use the name, but the source declined, as too often happens in the claustrophobic politics of the locality. Of course, I won’t “out” a source. Again, thanks for the union perspective.

—– o o o —–

Now we hear this morning that the chief and others are scrambling over the release of the information. We can also say that a City Hall source close to the negotiations has confirmed what we reported: The firemen were offered a 4 percent pay hike in return for random drug testing. They “hemmed and hawed” for two weeks, and frustrated city bargainers, representing taxpayers, pulled the offer.

Also note that “Pittsfield Jake” essentially confirms what we reported. In a careless use of language Jake also attributes the statement about drug use within the fire department to THE PLANET. That is incorrect. THE PLANET did not made that charge. The charge comes from someone within the fire department, our original source. We won’t reveal this source except under one condition: this person allows. In a journalism career that began in 1974, THE PLANET has NEV-VER outed a source and NEV-VER will.

As for illicit drug use among Pittsfield fire fighters, we do not have first-hand information one way or the other to make a determination of facts. Consequently, we cannot say how many fire fighters use and or abuse illegal substances. Our only first hand knowledge would be called anecdotal. We will also add that our source, whose prior history with THE PLANET has been shown to be impeccable for his/her honesty and truthfulness, would have no reason to claim otherwise in this case.

We shall continue to report on this matter as developments warrant. We will only add that a 4 percent pay hike in THIS economic climate is overly generous. THE PLANET applauds the city for its atempt to get the union to agree to random drug testing, but not at that cost. We also state that 4 percent will break the backs of too many taxpayers. The city should insist on random and unconditional drug testing. It is a minimal (and reasonable) expectation that taxpayers should have: That their police and fire departments are drug free.

So here’s the proposal for the Jakes: If you are all clean, say OK to random testing. SImple as that.

—————————————–

MORE TO COME, AND UNTIL THEN,

“OPEN THE WINDOW, AUNT MILLIE.”

LOVE TO ALL.

40 Responses to “FIRESTORM OVER FIRE DEPARTMENT DISCLOSURE; UNION CONFIRMS IT REJECTED CITY’S OFFER OF A 4 PERCENT PAY HIKE, AT ISSUE: RANDOM DRUG TESTING”

  1. JoeBlow
    August 10, 2011 at 8:16 am #

    They should be drug tested just like private sector employees. People have had it with unions…..just look at the recall elections in Wisconsin yesterday! I’m all for police and fire making a decent living for the difficult job they do BUT the gravy train need to stop.

  2. George H Rogers
    August 10, 2011 at 9:07 am #

    I’m in agreement with Joe Blow, the gravy train has got to stop. My parents were both union workers, back in Michigan, back in the day, when the working man needed help. Today, taxpayers can no longer support the pileup of benefits, ridiculous, unsupportable benefits the private sector doesn’t get, and the taxpayers are looking to the city here to get tough. The gravy train must stop. Excellent article, Planet.

  3. danvalenti
    August 10, 2011 at 9:12 am #

    WE PRINT THIS POST FROM YESTERDAY’S STORY AS RELEVANT HERE:

    Shakes His Head August 10, 2011 at 8:23 am # Edit
    Does anyone in Pittsfield government understand collective bargaining? It would appear not from observations between the Teachers’ Union and the FD contract debacle. Nice to see that we can continue to fund management ineptitude and raises for the workers. I wonder how many people in Pittsfield received a 4% raise last year? Of course, voter apathy may not change course with the opportunities the election presents in November.

    Reply

  4. Payroll Patriot
    August 10, 2011 at 9:54 am #

    The City is run into the ground. NOT MANAGED! As long as the voters of wards 3,4, and parts of 5&6 keep their heads in the sand and drink the COOL AID form the democratic city committee, we will not have a City moving toward economic growth. 4% pay raises declined because of random drug testing, all the union personnel should welcome drug testing as a way top prove the can drive a $450,000 + fire trucks to grocery store to shop while getting paid, without a problem.
    There is no excuse not to have random drug testing of all elected officials, teachers and administrators, police, fire and building inspectors.

    Dan, thank for the info that no one else will report on.

    PS:To turn down a 4% raise they should be all drug tested.

  5. danvalenti
    August 10, 2011 at 11:30 am #

    PAYROLL PAT
    Thank you for your insights, which are, as usual spot on and LOL funny. Too bad the punch line uses the bedraggled taxpayers as punching bags. Gee, wonder why the Boring Broadsheet hasn’t reported on this?

  6. rick
    August 10, 2011 at 11:45 am #

    your right p.p. this city hasnt been managed for quite some time now… we needed bianchi 4 yrs. ago to stop the bleeding of the robertos g. o. b network. ive said before and ill say it again ,to be a good manager such as a mayor is a talent that not all people who run have, and roberto proved he lacks that talent, just look at the little guy in action plus he is not respected….so how can he sit across a table with a union , knowing hes a lame duck and useless… he should be drug tested….

  7. Dave
    August 10, 2011 at 12:29 pm #

    I have got to agree with the above posters.

    My two cents: Everyone that takes public monies, police, fire, city workers, teachers, public assistance recipients, should all be drug tested. If the average guy on the street, who pays taxes to fund the salaries of the public employees and pays taxes so public assistance recipients can be on permanent vacation, is subjected to drug testing in the work place, then why not require it of those who receive public money. Only seems fair.

    It would seem that if public officials were subjected to drug testing, they would have a much better perspective on the present drug laws and maybe even recind some of the more outdated laws..

  8. Voice of Reason
    August 10, 2011 at 12:56 pm #

    FACT:
    - The contract offer was WITHDRAWN by the mayor, NOT rejected by the firefighters.
    FACT:
    - 4% is the total raise for 3 YEARS, which amounts to roughly 1.33% per year.
    FACT:
    - Per Dan Valenti himself, “As for illicit drug use among Pittsfield fire fighters, we do not have first-hand information one way of (sic) the other to make a determination of facts.” Therefore, Dan Valenti’s assertions are based on nothing but rabble rousing, mud slinging speculation, NOT FACTS.
    FACT:
    - True journalists conduct sound research before going to print with unfounded accusations from a single unnamed, clearly uninformed source. Perhaps Valenti should pursue a job with the National Enquirer and report on the sighting of Big Foot or the existence of the 300 pound baby. That type of “journalism” (and I use that term loosely) is just his style.

    • Payroll Patriot
      August 10, 2011 at 4:03 pm #

      The “Voice of Reason” used to speak at the open mike of the City Council meetings, is that you? No real name
      How do we know your fact(s) are facts?

      • Voice of Reason
        August 10, 2011 at 4:44 pm #

        Maybe it is, maybe it isn’t. By the way, what’s YOUR real name, PP? My facts??? Well, I got them from an “unnamed but reliable source.” Not good enough for you? Yeah, me neither so I’ll explain if I must. Fact #1 can be found in Valenti’s article above unless you’re choosing to overlook it, which most responders seem to be doing. Fact #2 can be solved using simple arithmetic: 4% pay raise divided by 3-year contract equals 1.33% per year. Fact #3, Valenti admits that he has no possible way of knowing if “half of the PFD” is drug dependent, nor does his “reliable” source. How is this news again? Finally, Fact #4. Well, I guess that’s just my honest opinion.

        • danvalenti
          August 10, 2011 at 7:22 pm #

          VOR
          You are incorrect. Let’s look at the facts, which obviously are troubling you.

          Fact #1: The city took the offer off the table, as I reported, after the fire union, in the judgment of city negotiators, took too long (two weeks) to respond. Verdict: THE PLANET was factually correct on this breaking news.

          Fact #2: The jakes and the city admit our figure of a 4% pay hike is accurate. Verdict: THE PLANET was factually correct on this breaking news.

          Fact #3: You write that “Valenti admits that he has no possible way of knowing if ‘half of the PFD’ is drug dependent.” You are factually incorrect. THE PLANET never stated that. Go back and read what we wrote. We said based on our own first-hand experience, our evidence would be anecdotal. That’s a different thing altogether than the words you put in THE PLANET’s mouth. I do have plenty of second-hand information on drug use in the PFD. Moreover, there are ways we could find factual evidence. Therefore, we would never write what you say we wrote. Verdict: Voice of Reason is factually incorrect in his attributions to THE PLANET.

          Fact #4: We respect your opinion here. However, you are again factually incorrect. Our information wasn’t based on “a single unnamed, clearly uninformed source.” Our reporting was based on multiple sources who were indeed well informed. Verdict: Voice of Reason is unreliable and is trying mightily to spin the facts exclusively uncovered (then reported) by this website.

          • Voice of Reason
            August 10, 2011 at 10:13 pm #

            The facts do not trouble me, your distortion of them does. Your reporting of half truths and rumor based on unsubstantiated allegations is not only slanderous but irresponsible and reprehensible as well.

            Fact #1 – Firefighters cannot REJECT an offer that has been taken off of the table. Your headline is incorrect. #1 is factually correct.

            Fact #2 – While 4% OVERALL is correct, it is not the figure that applies to each year, 1.33% is. Your information purposely misleads the public and is clearly withheld for inflammatory purposes. Report the entire truth Dan, not just what is convenient and supportive of your half-baked theories.

            Fact #3 – YOU go back and read what you wrote. You quote your source as saying “half of the department would fail” then go on to say “It seems so.” All I had to do was cut and paste, Dan. #3 is factually correct.

            Fact #4 – “I asked my source…” “Our source, well familiar with fire department procedures…” “THE PLANET heard from a reliable source…” “The charge comes from someone within the fire department, our original source…” Am I mistaken or is this the same source? Your reporting implies that it is, or else I would imagine that you would have distinguished between them to bolster your argument. #4 is factually correct, regardless of my “spin” and in spite of yours.

        • Dusty
          August 11, 2011 at 3:40 am #

          we could check one fact…would the PFD be willing to all take drug tests immediately? This would certainly give you and the PFD credibility if the test come out clean.

          I am thinking you will now give me six reason that won’t or cannot happen right?

          • Voice of Reason
            August 11, 2011 at 6:32 am #

            You flatter me, but I’m just your average taxpayer who has no authority over the PFD or its firefighters. Nor is it necessary for me to make any excuses for them, as you are implying, because they do not need to defend themselves. The mayor withdrew the offer, they did not reject it, contrary to Valenti’s headline. I am simply addressing Valenti’s facts, or should I say his misrepresentation of them.

  9. Dusty
    August 10, 2011 at 1:11 pm #

    why is ANYBODY getting raises these days??? and what a-hole is offering it to them?

    • daNa
      August 11, 2011 at 7:27 am #

      I find the so-called “voice of reason” (who is afraid to use his real name, unlike Valenti) unreasonable. His “facts”? His “fact” is hes upset Valenti got this story and broke it, I think Dusty is right. All the PFD has to do is simply agree to drug testing that would be the best way to ut to rest the claims of drug use by the sources of the information. Are guys taking drugs or not? Tests would reveal. Maybe, voice of reson, that is why you don’t want your department to agree to drug testing. In the “battle” of facts, Valenti has won here. I say this as someone who often doesnt agree with him bt who greatly respects his work

      • voice of reason
        August 11, 2011 at 8:51 am #

        And what is your real name daNa? You know what they say about people who live in glass houses. Of course Valenti takes credit for his vitriol, it’s his blog and he craves the attention. Quite honestly, I find it distasteful that I’m contributing to his popularity by posting on this mess of a website. Just to set you straight, I am not a Pittsfield firefighter therefore it is not my department and not my decision to make. Have I ever said that I disagree with drug testing? Absolutely not. Drug users have no place in the PFD, PPD, public schools, medical community, city administration or anywhere else, as far as I’m concerned. The city of Pittsfield is plagued with these people, we certainly don’t need them in positions of authority or standing between us and our safety. Now, have I said that Dan Valenti is reporting half-truths, innuendos and broad sweeping generalizations about the PFD gleaned from anonymous sources as fact? Absolutely. That is my opinion and I stand by it. My facts are irrefutable but feel free to ignore them, be a sheep and follow the herd, believing what you read in the Eagle and what you hear from Dan Valenti. Everybody loves a good public servant bashing every now and then, after all, the teachers have settled their contract so on to a new target.

  10. Payroll Patriot
    August 10, 2011 at 1:41 pm #

    BREAKING NEWS from Palookaville In a story by the local daily news paper : It has been reported that the smokeystover fire department has turned down a 4% pay raise because the bosses wanted the firemen to adhere to random DRUG TESTING. The UNION HEAD explained it “ the keystone cops brought pressure on us not to use a local gym(next to main fire station) to test drugs, therefore we would have to go out on the street to test drugs and the 4 % would not pay for the purchase of drugs to test.” In a related story the Chief of the smokeystover fire department is running around in embarrassment at how the drug testing story got out. According to the chief “ I’m only half running around because the non economic development director has made cement half circles at the common not complete circles. “ The chief also wonder if his department would have to attach the Big Red Pothole Machine to the fire trucks when they went grocery shopping to fix the POT holes near some of the stores. MORE TO FOLLOW AS THE STORY DEVELOPS

  11. Concern
    August 10, 2011 at 1:49 pm #

    If I was a firefighter (talking about them for now) I would have no problem getting tested, unless I’m doing illegal drung. Also I would not want the person I depend on during drugs and risking my and others lives. I believe Boston F.D. Buried there own a while back because one or more were on drugs. So PFD take your 4% and other benefits and agree to drug testing for the good of the public and all you good men/women.

  12. Concern
    August 10, 2011 at 1:56 pm #

    Sorry. Should say “Drugs” not drung and below should be”doing”not during

  13. San Simeon
    August 10, 2011 at 2:31 pm #

    How dare these greedy firemen act this way. I agree with previous posters: Random drug testing for ALL public employees. Statrt with cops and fire first, then go from there. There’s a huge drug problem in both departments, and this doesn’t even count excessive drinking. Elected officials and those running for office, take notice, the city MUST BEGIN REQUIRING RANDOM DRUG TESTING FOR POLICE AND FIRE, with NO PAY HIKES. NO PAY HIKES. I haven’t been as mad about an issue since I can’t remember.

  14. LARESTO
    August 10, 2011 at 3:14 pm #

    EDITOR’S NOTE: THIS POST IS FROM THE SAME ADDRESS AS “FIREFIGHTERS WIFE” AND “KID.” AGAIN ONE PERSON IS USING MULTIPLE ALIASES. TYPICALLY THE WEBMASTER HAS INSTRUCTIONS TO DELETE THE SECOND AND ANY SUBSEQUENT SUCH POSTINGS. IN CONSULTATION WITH DAN VALENTI, THOUGH, THE DECISION WAS MADE TO ACTIVATE THE COMMENTS AS ITS OWN STATEMENT. IT SPEAKS TO THE TACTICS OF OPPONENTS OF THE INFORMATION THIS WEBSITE HAS UNCOVERED.

    The Firefighters of the city of Pittsfield have continously done there job day in and day out without asking anything but fairness from the City. They do there jobs with absolute junk for equipment that borders on the criminal!! They do everything that the private sector ambulance companies can’t charge for, such as putting elders back in their beds , changing their underclothes and helping them to stay in their homes.This little city has alot of big fires, and have all been dealt with with great pride and expertise from the Chief down to the firefighters! The facts are that there has never been a drug problem nin the PFD . and the contract would have passed, because nobody cared about the drug testing, and the Mayor is the one who took it off the table, for his own reasons! The fact that someone would report without the facts is shameful and not someone who takes pride in their work as much as the PFD!!

  15. KID
    August 10, 2011 at 3:26 pm #

    EDITOR’S NOTE: THIS POST IS FROM THE SAME ADDRESS AS “FIREFIGHTERS WIFE”. IN OTHER WORDS, THIS IS ONE PERSON USING MULTIPLE FAKE ALIASES.

    The Firefighters of the city of Pittsfield have continously done there job day in and day out without asking anything but fairness from the City. They do there jobs with absolute junk for equipment that borders on the criminal!! They do everything that the private sector ambulance companies can’t charge for, such as putting elders back in their beds , changing their underclothes and helping them to stay in their homes.This little city has alot of big fires, and have all been dealt with with great pride and expertise from the Chief down to the firefighters! The facts are that there has never been a drug problem In the PFD. And the contract would have passed, because nobody cared about the drug testing, and the Mayor is the one who took it off the table, for his own reasons! The fact that someone would report without the facts is shameful and not someone who takes pride in their work as much as the PFD!! Dan, I feel sorry for you if your house is burning, who do you think you want fighting that fire? Dont judge people you dont know who bust their a$$ to do their job everyday as best as they can. Shame on you.

  16. Firefighter Wife
    August 10, 2011 at 3:34 pm #

    I may be just a spouse of a professional firefighter, and my opinion is way more in depth than the fact the some idiot reporter thinks that the people who protect this city, Firefighters and PPD, are nothing but greedy potheads, but really, what is the real issue here? No one really knows what happend behind closed doors with the Mayor, and speculation and a “reliable source” says that the fire department is all pot heads, really needs to think about what your really saying. Are these accusations necessary. Again, I may be biased because my husband is not a drug user, but a big hearted, caring, reliable fireman who will run into your burning house and try to save everything that is important to you, while I pray to God that he comes out in one piece and not hurt, knowing that the abandonded building the city is doing nothing about probably just caught fire because the real drug dealers had no other place to smoke their crack.

    Sleep well Dan, and get your facts exact before posting accusations that you have no proof of. If your source was so sure of him/herself, why wont they give their name?

    • danvalenti
      August 10, 2011 at 7:34 pm #

      FW
      Thank you for your views. We will ask the same question with which you end: Why not give you name, so we can ascertain the reliability of what you say? As a trained journalist who has been in the business since 1974, I am bound by my profession’s ethics in dealing with sources. The rule is: Always respect the conditions, and always protect your sources.

      Of course I ALWAYS prefer on-the-record, but you rarely will get a knowledgable source in that town to agree to that. Why? Because the pay-back factor, coupled with the poison politics of Pittsfield. Most people are afraid to speak out about what’s happening behind the scenes. Those that do will only do so, typically, if they can be assured anonymity because of the retribution factor. You also have to admit that agree with me or not, I put my name to my information.

    • rick
      August 11, 2011 at 2:37 am #

      f.f.w. not once did anyone specificaly say what drug was being used.. was potheads a freuding slip??? do you know for sure its pot? it would be a hell of a ride driving the back end of the hook and ladder stoned………yahoooooooo

  17. rick
    August 10, 2011 at 3:38 pm #

    everyone wants more, we have families, mortages, autos etc… with all the spending thats going on here, it sends a message to go after more…. the message im getting is that the money is there so go for it, plenty of acting jobs with good pay in the city, if we were hurting then roberto would not have appointed these folks…. so why crap on fire,police and teachers.. roberto seems to be saying, im leaving let it all hit the fan…..

  18. Not a Fan
    August 10, 2011 at 4:12 pm #

    Sounds like King James got his panties in a bunch and had a little hissy fit, rescinding the offer before the firefighters had a chance to accept or reject the contract. Why? Maybe super sleuth Dan Valenti could locate an anonymous source to shed some light on this. It sounds to me like Ruberto preempted the contract settlement because when he said “Jump” the PFD neglected to say “How high.”

  19. Real Deal 2
    August 10, 2011 at 4:13 pm #

    If these departments (fire and police) except federal grant money, why are they allowed not to ahere to the federal “Drug Free Workplace Act 1988.” Federal law would supercede a union contract.

    • danvalenti
      August 10, 2011 at 7:22 pm #

      Excellent point.

      • Real Deal 2
        August 10, 2011 at 8:07 pm #

        Dan, this from the Departmen of Labor site:

        Drug-Free Workplace Act of 1988
        Penalties

        A contractor or grantee who fails to carry out the requirements of the Drug-Free Workplace Act of 1988 can be penalized in one or more of the following ways:

        Payments for contract or grant activities may be suspended.
        Contract or grant may be suspended or terminated.
        Contractor or grantee may be prohibited from receiving, or participating in, any future contracts or grants awarded by any Federal agency for a specified period, not to exceed five years.
        Compliance with the Act’s requirements is reviewed as part of normal Federal contract and grant administration and auditing procedures.

        The Federal agency head is responsible for deciding whether a violation has occurred. If the contract or grant officer determines—in writing—that cause exists, an appropriate action shall be initiated and conducted in accordance with the Federal Acquisition Regulation and applicable agency procedures. For further information about compliance monitoring procedures, please contact the contract or grant officer in the agency from which the contract/grant was awarded.

        The Pittsfield Fire and Police both use federal grant money. Didn’t PFD buy a command vehicle shortly after 9/11-with federal grant money? Boy, if the City of Pittsfield were to lose federal monies because 40+ year old men feel the need the maintain the body of a 25 year-old NFL linebacker, than what a sad state of affairs this city is in. Maybe an all volunteer fire department is around the corner?

  20. edconnect
    August 10, 2011 at 8:01 pm #

    I know who the “source” is. Not a current fireman, a guy who retired a few years back. About 5 or 6 years ago. He HATES the current ccheif and just trying to stir the pot up.

    Im not going to say his name either. He’s a pretty good guy, acting the fool here, but usually a good guy.

  21. CONCERNED
    August 10, 2011 at 9:18 pm #

    I agree with the wife, they do a GREAT job and I’m proud of them also. Their could be someone that is doing illegal drugs just like any other group of people, I would hope not but you never know. Therefore there MUST be drug testing (also others) Like I said before and I’ll say to the wife, we don’t want anyone doing illegal drugs working next to you husband for his and everyone safety.

    I heard tonight Pittsfield Police start drug testing September 1st Any truth to that I’ sure Dan can ask the Mayor or Chief.

    • Voice of Reason
      August 10, 2011 at 10:29 pm #

      The Pittsfield Police officers have a vested interest in agreeing, no questions asked, to drug testing. Transparency is vital to restoring the good name of their department following the steroid scandal. A few undesirables have tainted their reputation which is a public relations nightmare for them. How unfortunate that the public is so quick to paint all with the same brush, without hard and fast evidence that the problem is rampant in the PPD.

  22. Stop the insanity
    August 11, 2011 at 5:22 am #

    People who have nothing to hide, hide nothing.
    Put your (our?) money where your mouths are, PFD and PPD, and prove you are worthy of that paycheck.

  23. JahnDoh
    August 11, 2011 at 8:29 am #

    There is no need for random drug testing. In MA. any employer can order an employee to take a drug test if they have reasonable suspicion the employee is using. Random drug testing is also very, very expensive and we, the Pittsfield taxpayer (not Dan because he does not live here yet chooses to write all about us) would have to pay for it. And by now, I think we all know that if certain people with the right political connections tested positive it would just get swept under the rug like so many other things in this city.
    Therefore, random drug testing would just be a waste of time and taxpayer money.

    • voice of reason
      August 11, 2011 at 8:54 am #

      Amen.

  24. Stop the insanity
    August 11, 2011 at 9:05 am #

    JahnDoh, I thought about that after I wrote my comment–the part about a failed test being covered up for the chosen ones. Couldn’t agree more.
    Maybe they have the only solution–we all need to be high to be able to stomach our corrupt governments.

  25. Shakes His Head
    August 11, 2011 at 11:50 am #

    The reporter has only asked the question of why (or if) the random drug testing provision proposed in the contract was the reason it was rejected. EVERY collective bargaining agreement AND the City’s personnel policies for exempt employees (or within management rights under the current contracts) should include a provision for random drug testing. A drug test should be required within 24 hours each and every time an incident report is filed where a Municipal employee, regardless of department or rank, even the elected officials, is involved in a physical injury or property damage ON THE JOB. This is standard in many places across the country. The point IS NOT to disparage public sector employees or imply that they don’t all provide a very valuable public service. The point IS to limit the public’s liability in an event where drugs or alcohol are a factor in injury or property damage.
    The current administration has not shirked about breaking out the City’s credit card. If there were, God forbid, an instance where someone was hurt as the result of an impaired employee, the City could be forced to shell out money it doesn’t have. The Commonwealth and the Federal government would not come to the rescue. Each and every person that contributes revenue through property and sales taxes, fees, fines, etc. would pony up while other desperate needs within the City (continue) to go unmet. OR the City could face a precipitous budget gap resulting in layoffs, furloughs, increased contributions to medical insurance, etc.
    Yes, emergency responders are extremely valuable and I’ll assume that not a single one does anything illicit or illegal on their own time or on the clock. I would also assume that they would not grant me elevated status for my occupational responsibilities – anymore than I do theirs. We collectively must understand our roles and appreciate that every situation has its benefits and costs.
    I’ve been a union steward and in management negotiations. There is a finite amount that the City can pay for first responder services (or any CBA), whether it is salary, fringe benefits, overtime, or other overhead. Each of the collective bargaining units can negotiate how to divide that amount, in this case a raise over the life of the contract. ALL of the collective bargaining units should understand that they have responsibilities as public sector employees that don’t necessarily end with the workday- and accept provisions that make the City more sustainable, protects future investment, and most importantly keeps their other union members safe and effective while on and off duty.

  26. JoeBlow
    August 11, 2011 at 6:25 pm #

    The government workers need to understand they are not special or above anyone else. Drug testing is required for UPS,Walmart,Home Depot,BMC,Cabulance….etc. I think most of them are out of touch and don’t know how good they have it. I’m not saying they don’t have a tough job BUT so do alot of people. Who turns down a 4% increase in these tough times? I haven’t had a raise in a long time due to pay freeze. I can just imagine when the issue of the city’s unfunded liabilities is addressed! Times are changing…the gravy train is running towards the end of the track. We the people respect the jobs they do but when your salaries and bennies go up so do our taxes…..We the people are tapped out! Buck up piss in the cup and be thankful you have a job.