Officers seeking to break with FOP

30 push for Teamsters to represent police in contract negotiations

August 18, 1999|By Devon Spurgeon | Devon Spurgeon,SUN STAFF

Thirty Anne Arundel County police officers are handing out leaflets and organizing meetings to persuade their fellow officers to abandon the Fraternal Order of Police and let the Teamsters represent them in contract negotiations with the county.

The effort -- dubbed "Operation Second Chance" -- began this week with organizers placing leaflets singing the praises of the International Brotherhood of Teamsters Local 103 in mailboxes late at night.

"One of the biggest benefits of the Teamsters is that when an issue surfaces within our bargaining unit, a professional from Local 103 addresses the issue with the Chief, County or press, not a fellow police officer who may be subjected to coercion from management," said the letter signed by the Anne Arundel County Police Officers Teamsters Organizing Committee.

The organizers are disheartened by this year's contract, which gave the officers a 3 percent pay raise.

Anne Arundel pays first-year officers $27,876. Starting salaries do not differ significantly from surrounding counties, but major disparities exist for experienced officers. Anne Arundel County police officers at the six-year mark earn almost $4,000 less than officers in Howard County and about $8,000 less than colleagues in Prince George's County.

The current president of FOP Lodge 70, Officer William T. Wild, said officers are "exploring their options. They are frustrated that our pay has not kept up with surrounding jurisdictions."

Teamster sympathizers call the FOP cozy with police administration and say they don't like the disparity in pay, and they are upset that the costs of a trip to the national FOP conference in Mobile, Ala., last week by eight county police officers have not been disclosed.

A Sept. 2 meeting at the Holiday Inn in Glen Burnie is intended to answer questions about the Teamsters. In February 1997, the Teamsters fell three votes short of overpowering the FOP -- hence the name "Operation Second Chance."

A majority of the 649 county police officers must vote in favor of the Teamsters for the union to represent the officers in negotiations.

"We are not going to run a campaign where we throw stones, but this last contract was less than successful for them," said J. William Mowery, the director of Teamsters Local 103, which is headquartered in Glen Burnie. "We are big on service and have a full-time staff, so officers can stop by anytime."

The Teamsters union represents the county's 55 sheriff's deputies in their contract negotiations, but not the officers.

In April, the Teamsters pulled out of scheduled talks with Anne Arundel County Executive Janet S. Owens in April about the deputies' contract because of a slight against the union in a remark by Police Chief P. Thomas Shanahan at an in-service training session.

The week before the police officers ratified their new contract, Shanahan told them not to "behave like Teamsters or you will be treated like Teamsters."

The union said in a letter to Owens that the remark suggested its members were "less than professional and even child-like."

"It was derogatory because there was the suggestion that Teamsters were not professionals," said Mowery. "We hold no malice. We look forward to some relationship with the chief."

Lt. Jeff Kelly said Shanahan has not taken a position on who should represent his troops.

New contract negotiations are scheduled to begin in October.

Pub Date: 8/18/99

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