Police unions reach deal in move against Teamsters

IUPA would be agent for FOP Lodge 70 in contract talks

January 06, 2000|By TaNoah Morgan | TaNoah Morgan,SUN STAFF

Two weeks before a runoff election between the Teamsters Union and the Fraternal Order of Police that will decide the bargaining agent for Anne Arundel County police officers, the FOP lodge has formed an alliance with a former opponent in hopes of swaying the outcome.

The vote is scheduled for Jan. 19.

Lodge 70, which has represented the police officers for 30 years, made a deal Tuesday night with the International Union of Police Associations (IUPA) -- which was eliminated last month in a three-way election that failed to decide which group would represent the officers.

Under the arrangement made public yesterday, the FOP lodge would buy negotiating services from IUPA during contract talks with the county.

Negotiations for a new contract are under way while the union election process is proceeding.

Detective Ricardo Hawkins, first vice president of Lodge 70, said it has agreed to a six-month, $73,794 contract with IUPA, one that will give members the representation they've complained was lacking at the bargaining table. They can continue to put their trust in fellow officers to win a better contract, he said.

"It's a way of combining the votes, and it gives members what they're asking for. And, hopefully, it'll sway a couple Teamsters to our side," he said.

IUPA "is a police organization," Hawkins said. "I'm a firm believer in police taking care of police."

The Teamsters, FOP and IUPA all were seeking bargaining rights for the 550-member force, but none won the 50 percent-plus-one vote needed for victory. The Teamsters got 188 votes -- eight shy of victory -- while the FOP received 106 and IUPA 95.

The runoff marks the second one-on-one matchup between the FOP and Teamsters -- the earlier contest two years ago ending with a three-vote victory margin for the lodge.

Word of the alliance began circulating yesterday on an Internet message site used by county officers.

J. William Mowery, a Teamsters representative, said, "I think it's become obvious to the police that desperate times bring desperate measures." Last month's vote "told us there's no question the Anne Arundel County Police Department wants change, and by the votes cast, it seems they want the Teamsters to spearhead that change."

According to Hawkins, the agreement allows the FOP to buy services from IUPA -- a union affiliated with the AFL-CIO -- at a rate of $2.51 a month per member. The contract will not result in an increase in dues and becomes effective only if Lodge 70 wins the election.

FOP members have complained that it is too difficult for police officers who hold positions within the lodge to negotiate effectively with lieutenants and captains they may some day work for. Hawkins said having a union like IUPA to negotiate contracts would ease those concerns.

"We've heard loud and clear that they want a union to assist them in representation," he said. "If they want more attorneys, that's what we're doing here. If I could pull this election off without doing this, I would."

On the Internet message board, where police officers have been debating the election for weeks, some appeared to have posted complaints that the Tuesday FOP meeting was not called as a "special meeting," at which a vote could be taken, and with members notified accordingly.

A few more than 60 members attended, Hawkins said -- with about half of them retirees eligible to vote on internal budget matters such as the IUPA deal. Only four members voted against the IUPA agreement, he said.

Some officers also complained on the message board that no one read the entire contract during the meeting. Hawkins acknowledged that he did not read the contract, but told the members what was in it.

"I gave them the meat and potatoes," he said. "We asked the board and the membership in December to give us a little leeway in order to save the lodge, and they agreed to that. I brought it to a vote of the people I believe are loyal to the FOP. The people who are loyal are the ones who were there. Not all 490 [active police] members realize that we as a group are in trouble."

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