As the New Year began we found ourselves dealing with the City’s predictable tactics of chicanery during bargaining. I refer specifically to their attempt to bargain directly with our membership regarding health insurance. I believe we responded appropriately to the City’s propaganda and answered the questions raised by their documents. As we continue our journey in the collective bargaining process, the rumors and the tactics used by the City will only grow more difficult to tolerate.
As you likely saw in the Boston Globe (Tuesday 01/23/07), the city is rushing forward to establish a new “Police Civilian Review Board,” and, as usual, the City is telling the Globe more than they are telling us. As recently as Thursday, January 18, 2007, the City bargaining team, who had presented the review board proposal to your committee members at the bargaining table, did not have answers for the many questions asked by your Union. The City further indicated that they had no specific timetable for their proposal and that they would get back to us with answers and other pertinent information at subsequent bargaining meetings. Instead, they rescinded a previously promulgated order via a mayoral executive order and notified the Boston Globe, not the BPPA. We are still awaiting answers and other pertinent information requested; obviously the Globe is not, what else is new?
Because we again find ourselves outraged by the City’s lack of candor and disrespect for the BPPA and its members, as well as its continuing disregard for its legal obligations, we have filed a grievance and an unfair labor practice charge with the State Labor Relations Commission. The charges challenge the City’s implementation of this new review board and its failure to provide us with answers to our questions as well as other pertinent information that was requested. We will continue to fight any efforts by the City to take any further action to erode or undermine your rights.
As you no doubt know by now, on January 1, 2007, thirty-three former members of the Boston Municipal Police Department were sworn in as Boston Police Officers and assigned to the Police Academy for training. The thirty-three officers were declared Boston Police Officers by the City/BPD pursuant to a civil service lateral transfer from the BMPD into the BPD. Such transfers are governed by M.G.L. Chapter 32 section 35, which allows a transfer from one department to another when the departments are “similar.”(If you are not familiar with the transfer provision, you’re not alone. In fact, the BPD website states “No commissioner of the BPD has ever hired a lateral transfer, however, under Civil Service Law it can be allowed.”)
As you also know, the BPPA does not believe that the position of Police Officer in the BPD is “similar” to the position of Police Officer in the BMPD. We have spent the last decade fighting the City’s creation of this “shadow police force” in the BMPD. No officer of the BMPD has ever been hired or promoted pursuant to civil service law. As such, the officers cannot be considered “similar” to BPD officers, all of whom were hired pursuant to civil service standards.
Because BMPD officers are not similar to BPD officers, we have challenged the plans to transfer the officers into the BPD in the Superior Court. In December, the Judge agreed with us that the positions are not similar, but he denied our request for an injunction blocking the transfers because he ruled that the law requires that the administrative process must be exhausted first and he ordered that the State’s Human Resource Division (HRD) and the Civil Service Commission should address the matter first. The City submitted its transfer requests to HRD just prior to the holidays. Although HRD’s attorney indicated to the court that a decision could not be made until after the first of the New Year because all the decision makers were on vacation and they would not return until after the New Year. A decision apparently did issue on December 28, 2006. We say apparently because the BPPA did not learn of the decision until about 6:00 pm on the evening of December 31, 2006, New Years Eve, when a Boston Globe reporter called President Nee and BPPA Attorney Bryan Decker seeking a comment. It seems that the “neutral” state agency saw fit to fax a copy of the decision to the City and somehow the Boston Globe got a copy, but HRD only bothered to mail a copy to the BPPA the following day, which we didn’t receive until January 3, 2007.
Because we believe that the HRD decision was incorrect, we have filed an appeal with the Civil Service Commission on January 4, 2007. That appeal is pending. Again, to be crystal clear, it’s the BPPA’s position in that appeal that the thirty-three former BMPD officers do not meet the statuary criteria to be laterally transferred into the BPD. The BPPA does not suggest that they are bad people, or that they should be fired or laid off as the City did to more than half of their colleagues on New Years Eve. It is the City who threatens to take away their jobs if they are held to the state law like everyone else.
At the present time, the thirty-three officers receiving training at the academy are members of the BPPA’s bargaining unit as a result of the City’s unilateral transfer, and under the law the BPPA owes them a duty of fair representation as it relates to their service as members of the BPD. In fact, we have filed a grievance over their pay, and will vigilantly protect their rights under our contract. That is the law, and we will abide by the law and treat them no differently. That being said, those same officers through their BMPPA lawyer have indicated to us that they intend to file an unfair labor practice against the BPPA if we do not drop the Civil Service appeal and related litigation as well as publicly post in the Pax Centurion, on the BPPA website and on every union bulletin board around the City a welcome to the BMPD officers. I would be willing to bet you know what our response was. At this time, we are unaware of any charge actually being filed. Because the appeal deals with the process by which the officers became members of the BPD and not anything that has occurred since they were members of the BPD, we do not intend to drop the appeal base on a threat of a frivolous, meritless unfair labor practice charge.
What we will continue to do, as we have always done, is to fight to protect the rights of EVERY member of the BPPA, and to fight to uphold the civil service system under which all BPD officers prior to 01/01/07 were hired, promoted and disciplined.
In closing, even the best of intentions are sometimes fowled by mistakes. On January 19, 2007 there was a deduction of $20.00 for the National Law Enforcement Memorial from our paychecks. Subsequently there were calls to the BPPA office indicating confusion and in some cases criticism about the assessment. The assessment was considered by the entire House of Representatives nearly a full year prior to its execution. Even though the assessment was well documented, it was not handled right and I take full responsibility for the lack of oversight and communication and apologize for any misunderstanding or inconvenience this mistake may have caused you. The matter has been corrected and your $20.00 will be returned to you in your payroll check on Friday 02/09/07.