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Mass. FF union takes legal action to counter mayor’s accusations about sick days

Medford Mayor Breanna Lungo-Koehn accused FFs of organizing a sickout

By Ryan Mancini

MEDFORD, Mass. — Weeks after Medford’s mayor criticized local firefighters for taking sick days, the Medford Firefighters Union, IAFF Local 1032 fired back.

The union responded Tuesday to Mayor Breanna Lungo-Koehn’s comments on Feb. 16 that accused firefighters of “an orchestrated event” that she said cost the city over $92,000 in overtime and sick pay costs, according to WBZ-TV.

“The Mayor has a well-documented history of animosity and underhanded attacks upon organized labor within Medford, and her repeated attempts to undermine, and silence workers is nothing new,” the union said in a statement. “Well, the buck stops here, Local 1032 is actively taking all legal action available to us to protect not just our members, but everyone in Medford from Mayor Lungo-Koehn.”

On Feb. 2 , then-Fire Chief John Freedman told Lungo-Koehn that 12 firefighters called out sick, WBZ-TV reported. The next day, nine more employees said they were sick. Then Freedman retired shortly after.

The mayor told the news station that most firefighters who called in sick did show up later that same day to fill in for evening shifts. She added that her staff was looking through documented overtime among firefighters over the last few years, with the latest bout of sick firefighters causing reason for concern.

Local 1032 accused Lungo-Koehn of making “rumors and gossip, claiming that we promoted and facilitated sick time abuse within the fire department,” the union’s statement said. The union attempted to address Lungo-Koehn’s “false accusations directly... but each was ignored by her in favor of publicizing these allegations through baseless and defamatory statements on social media and the news.”

“From the early days of the Industrial Revolution to the present times, this state was built on the back of organized labor and unions,” the statement concluded. “We remind the mayor that Local 1032 has been proudly protecting the people of Medford long before she arrived and will continue to do so long after she leaves.”

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