You may recall from our June 2019 Advisor, that the Department of Labor Relations (DLR) in City of Boston, 45 MLC 126 (2019), issued a hearing officer decision that determined that the City’s new food guidelines for its operations room were not mandatory subjects of bargaining as they resulted in a mere inconvenience to employees. On appeal, the Commonwealth Employee Relations Board (CERB) has reversed this decision.

The CERB found that the new restrictions resulted in a material change to the employee’s terms and conditions of employment in that they went from being able to consume food at any time and any place, including while at their workstations, to a situation where that was no longer allowed. The silver lining is that the CERB affirmed the part of the hearing officer’s decision that determined the City was not required to bargain over the requirement that employees use spill-proof containers for drinks. The CERB concluded that this new requirement did not similarly prevent employees from drinking a beverage anywhere or anytime.