Military Pay Article Fails, Proponent Claims Harassment By Town Officials
Nov 06, 2018 08:47PM
By Lisa Redmond
Justin George is a National Guard medic and a Dracut firefighter. (Justin George Facebook photo)
On Monday, Special Town Meeting voters rejected an article asking the town to adopt the provisions of Mass. General Law Chapter 33, Section 59, regarding continuing to pay town employees during their military service.
But the man who put forth the article claims there is more to a story that began when he originally presented the article to voters at the Annual Town Meeting in the spring. Justin George, a National Guard medic and Dracut firefighter, has accused Town Manager Jim Duggan and Fire Chief David Brouillette of a campaign of harassment against him, according to a published report.
George has been on paid administrative leave since August. Duggan told The Sun the paid leave is not in retaliation for George pushing the town pass Article 45. The article asks Town Meeting to adopt Chapter 33, Section 59 of state law which calls for allowing town employees to receive their town salaries - less military pay - for up to 34 days while fulfilling their military obligations of drills and training.
Duggan told The Sun that George is being held accountable for his behavior and performance over his past seven years as a Dracut firefighter. Duggan did say the town has been closing the pay gap for Dracut employees in the military, noting that George's article would cost the town money.
But George told The Sun that he was informed there was a probe to see if he abused his sick time and military leave. George filed an harassment complaint with human resources claiming he was being bullied. When Duggan required George to take a fitness-for-duty test, George refused and the Dracut Firefighters Union sought a court order enjoining the town from doing the exam.
As for George's warrant article, he told the voters that he will be retiring soon from the National guard and agreed to donate his military pay to the town's Department of Veterans' Services if it passed. His effort failed. The vote was 146 against and 112 in favor.
In other Town Meeting news:
- Article 7, which asked for funds to construct, equip and furnish the new fire station at 539 Nashua Road. Passed.
- Article 9, asked to combine town-owned land to a 1.7-acre parcel on 144 Greenmont Ave.and a .92-acre parcel at 1530 Bridge St. to design and develop senior housing. Passed.
- Article 11, which sought to appropriate $2.2 million to renovate the Grange Hall for a community center to be owned by Christ Church United of Dracut. The article was withdrawn.