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Chambersburg Borough Council to appeal labor ruling on fire department captain

February 11, 2013|By JENNIFER FITCH | waynesboro@herald-mail.com

CHAMBERSBURG, Pa. — The Chambersburg Borough Council announced Monday it intends to appeal the conclusions recently reached by a Pennsylvania Labor Relations Board hearing examiner.

On Jan. 30, that examiner, Thomas P. Leonard, issued two proposed decisions and orders related to the Chambersburg Fire Department. The council has opted to file exceptions as a form of appeal within the 20-day window it is allowed before the proposals become a final order.

The Chambersburg Borough Council suspended Patrick Martin, a shift captain in the fire department, for 30 days and said he engaged in conduct “unbecoming of an officer” after he sent a letter to International Association of Firefighters (IAFF) members in October 2011. That letter asked union members to stop volunteering in the borough because of planned layoffs of the salaried firefighters.

Leonard said the council should rescind Martin’s suspension and reimburse him for wages and benefits from that period. Leonard also dismissed a complaint from the municipality saying IAFF 1813 leaders incited a secondary boycott that put public safety at risk.

“Town council did not start this debate by sending the threatening letter to volunteer firefighters directing them not to respond. Council would rather not spend public taxpayer money to litigate, but must stand up to protect the public and its residents to ensure both paid and volunteer firefighters respond in the event of an emergency,” Council President William McLaughlin said in a prepared statement during Monday night’s council meeting.

“Law and common sense are on the borough’s side” as the council files exceptions, McLaughlin said in the statement.

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