Gary D. Altman, 2023 CGA Awardee

Gary D. Altman

Labor Guild Board of Directors

Arbitrator & Mediator

Cushing-Gavin Awards Logo

Cushing-Gavin Award Recipient

Father Edward F. Boyle Award (Auxiliary), 2023

Gary grew up in Norwood Massachusetts, with his parents, brother Jeffrey and sister Elizabeth. He graduated from Norwood High School, and it was there that he learned firsthand the roles of disciplinary suspensions in the progressive discipline system. His maternal grandfather was a fruit peddler, and operated out of Quincy Market, where his sign still hangs on the walls of the rotunda in Quincy Market. His paternal grandfather and father owned a local hardware store that was a fixture in Norwood from the 1930s to the 1990s where it met the fate of many small family stores, and closed. 

Gary attended the University of Maryland, and after graduating was hired as a researcher with IBPO-NAGE, where he completed wage comparability studies to assist the lawyers in negotiating the IBPO’s first agreement with the District of Columbia. It was through this work that he became interested in labor relations, and owes a deep gratitude to Ken Lyons- then President of the Union- for hiring and taking an interest in his career. He attended Catholic University Law School, and after graduating worked as the Law Clerk to the Honorable Edward Lampron, Chief Justice of the New Hampshire Supreme Court. 

In 1980, Gary was appointed as one of three Commissioners to the Massachusetts Labor Relations Commission, the pre-cursor of today’s Division of Labor Relations. Soon after his appointment the voters passed Proposition 2 1/2, which had a dramatic impact on public sector collective bargaining, and the caseload of the Commission more than doubled. They were exciting times, the Public Sector Labor law was relatively new, and he recalls the dedicated and wonderful staff. He remains friends with many of his colleagues with who he worked at the Commission some forty years ago.

After his term with the Commission, Gary was recruited by his friend and mentor Jim Costello  to  work as a mediator with the Joint Labor Management Committee for Police and Fire. Gary remembers that Jimmy convinced Professor John Dunlop, the Chair of the Committee, to hire him. Gary states that it was this work as a mediator with the JLMC that gave him the confidence and practical experience to eventually go out on his own to work as a full-time arbitrator and mediator, which he has been doing since 1993. He has arbitrated and mediated in all New England States, during these thirty plus years, and travelled to Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, to arbitrate a case when school teachers still worked at the Navy Base.  

Gary has been an instructor and trainer on labor relations and arbitration practice with the American Arbitration Association, he served as Co-Chair of the Boston Association Committee on Public Sector Labor Relations, was appointed by Governor Deval Patrick to serve on the Advisory Committee for the Division of Labor Relations, and has contributed to various journals on public sector labor law.  For the past fifteen years he has served as Chair of the Brookline Retirement Board. The Board oversees the Town’s defined benefit retirement plan to ensure that the Town’s retirees will be able to retire with their earned and deserved pensions. 

Gary has lived in Brookline’s Coolidge Corner for the past forty-three years, where he and his wife Judy Ferber raised their children, Paula and Aaron. Paula is an attorney with a Boston firm, and Aaron is Assistant Dean at Northern Essex Community College. Finally, Gary would like to state his overpowering gratitude to his wife of 45 years, Judy Ferber, a retired lawyer, and native of the Bronx, New York. Judy paid his tuition for law school, and they have been married for 45 years. In addition to raising their children, working full-time as a lawyer, she has proofread all of his decisions, and has improved his writing, but more importantly has made him a better person.