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Boston, Police Union Begin Talks

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From Associated Press

Negotiators from the city and a police union that picketed the FleetCenter last week, delaying work at the site of next month’s Democratic National Convention, went into a mediation session Sunday night.

“We’re going in there for the long run,” said Thomas Nee, president of the Boston Police Patrolmen’s Assn., which has been without a contract for nearly two years. “We’re going to get this behind us.”

Mayor Thomas M. Menino, meanwhile, issued a statement announcing that the city had reached a tentative contract agreement with the 294-member Emergency Medical Services division of the police union.

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“This is another step toward reaching our goal of having every municipal union employee under contract,” Menino said.

Last week, when the $14-million renovation project to convert the FleetCenter from a sports arena into a convention hall was to begin, angry union members turned away cranes and trucks, and construction workers refused to cross picket lines.

The picketing ended Friday after a federal judge sent marshals to the site to ensure that the union protesters were not blocking access.

The police union wants a 16.5% increase over four years. The city has offered an 11.9% raise over four years and has pressed for expedited arbitration that could lead to an agreement before the July 26-29 convention.

The standoff took its toll on the Democratic National Committee, likely driving up costs by as much as $100,000 for each day of lost work.

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