TAMPA-PBA Truth Or Consequences By Second Vice President Rick Cochran As we are all fully aware, we lost our Impasse hearing in front of the Tampa City Council recently. What we did accomplish was that we showed the city that we can and will stand united in our fight for what we have earned and well deserve. The number of officers that took the time to come out and show their support, especially those who didn’t stand to benefit financially from it this year, was amazing. That was not lost on the city. Although the council ruled against us, from the time they walked into the council chambers, they showed the pressure that they felt from it. I’m quite certain that they realize that they will experience negative ramifications from their lack of support for us and what we do. It is now our job to make sure that they do. We must do everything in our power to end the political careers of those council members and administrators who failed to support us. The Tampa PBA will be working diligently to find individuals running for office who understand and appreciate what we all do on a daily basis, and have the internal fortitude to take a stand against the individuals within our city government who don’t. What we all want, and must have, are council members and administrators who are interested in having a city that works with and presents the truth. Other than Councilman Joe Caetano, not one member of our current Tampa City Council seemed interested in asking for or demanding that the city provide true and accurate information, and how they got there. Thank You Joe! Your support for us, and the integrity that you showed us through the hearing, has not gone unnoticed. We will be there to support you too. Once we find those individuals deserving of our support for election or re-election, and those who deserve our undivided attention in ending their reigns, we need to come out with the same kind of united front in making sure that we are successful. Hopefully we can all find some time to carry signs, knock on doors, and get the word out through every means necessary so that we can get a council, administration and other local area government elected that cares more about the truth than the agenda. Until Next Time Be S
TAMPA-PBA State Of The Union By Diane Bailey Morton, General Counsel
First, I would like to thank all of the officers and family members who attended the City Council Hearing on the impasse issues. It was an inspirational sight to see the true caring and concern everyone had for their fellow officers. I know many of you had to work or be at home and watched on television. Those who were there either in person or spirit were true brothers and sisters to their fellow officers. As you could see from the hearing, the union presented a cogent, logical argument on the necessity of the Step Plan remaining in a status quo position. We did not ask for an increase in the pay of the Steps, only a continuation of the 2008 pay level. As I argued at the hearing, the city would get 2010 officers at 2008 prices. The city argued that it was in dire financial straits and could not give a pay raise to any employee. Yet, Kimberly Crum, Human Resources Director, admitted at the Impasse Hearing that anyone getting a pay grade change will, in fact, get a raise. The cost of the Step Plan was an issue hotly contested by both sides. When the city repeatedly stated at the bargaining sessions that it did not want to pay the Step Plan but had never bothered to calculate the amount, Sgt. Jimmy Meier obtained the raw data and calculated the amount. His numbers were completely supported by data detailing the names, salary level, and review date of each officer. The city’s numbers on the Step Plan fluctuated repeatedly, especially when Sgt. Meier pointed out they included officers who were not even in the Step Plan; they then made everyone’s salary review date Oct. 1; and then they added in fiscal year 2011 to inflate the numbers. You can be proud that the union took the moral high ground and never falsified, exaggerated, or mislead anyone with the numbers of the Step Plan. The next step in this process is that the city will propose a collective bargaining agreement and we will present it to the members for a vote. We are going to urge you not to ratify the agreement as we believe it will contain provisions that constitute an Unfair Labor Practice. The city council voted to make any officer who received a Step increase after October 1st, when the Impasse procedure was ongoing, pay the money back through payroll deduction at a nominal amount per check. We were never advised of this in bargaining sessions or at the impasse hearing before the Special Magistrate. When a collective bargaining contract exceeds its expiration date, the contract stays in place in a status quo basis until a new contract is formed. Thus, our position is that the Steps do not have to be paid back. If the city does take them back, we plan to file an Unfair Labor Practice with the Public Employees Relations Commission (PERC), the governmental entity in Tallahassee that governs public employees. Another issue and possible Unfair Labor Practice is that any officer placed in an upper Step will be moved back. For example, if their salary review date was November 1 during the Impasse time period, and they moved from Step 5 to Step 6, the city would move them back to Step 5. I have conferred with the Florida PBA counsel and this issue is a new and unusual issue that we will consider if and when the city takes that step. Again, it could well be another Unfair Labor Practice. Rest assured, we are all working tirelessly to protect your rights during this difficult time period. When the city’s audit is released in March, we will be analyzing it scrupulously preparing for next year. We appreciate your input and all the supportive phone calls you have made to us. If you have any questions, you can contact us at the PBA office. If any of you missed the Impasse hearing and would like a copy of the transcript, we can email it to you for your review. Have a safe and happy holiday season!
TAMPA-PBA The Impasse Circus By Paul Southwick, PBA Member
On December 2, 2009, many of us went to the Tampa City Council meeting hoping to see this legislative body become a quasi-judicial board, review all of the evidence provided by the City of Tampa and the Tampa PBA, honestly evaluate the validity of that evidence, and render an unbiased decision only after having reviewed all of the facts. What we witnessed was a culmination of months of misinformation, blatant lies, media manipulation, and selective ignorance; far less than we had hoped for. The end result of this circus was an imposed contract of inequity. It began with the PBA attempting to do the right thing by going to the city and offering for its members to forgo a COLA increase (a pay raise) in light of the city’s assertion that it may have to lay off city employees due to a severe financial crisis. The PBA came to the table with the most honorable of intentions, unaware that city minions were beginning to execute a well orchestrated attack on the Merit/Step Plan (not a pay raise) earned by, and promised to, the fine officers of this city. The city, after accepting the generous offer of the PBA, turned hostile, refused to bargain in good faith, and quickly declared impasse in negotiations. Their demand (not offer) to the officers consisted of taking the COLA, taking the Step Plan, placing conditions on maintaining the status of MPO, and giving NOTHING in return. A very generous offer, indeed, by the city and hardly meeting the spirit of collective bargaining. This honorable action was accompanied by the city minions intentionally providing false information regarding the cost of the Step Plan (roughly 12 times the actual cost) to a local newsman for airing on television. These persons also provided a follow-up bundle of untruthfulness to the Tribune and Times creating an aura of greed among the officers of the Tampa Police Department and eroding the positive public perception we have worked so hard to achieve. What a great way to say “thanks” to the officers who risk their lives on a daily basis to reduce crime and make Tampa a safer, better place to live. The PBA put extensive effort into countering the city’s blatant lies, but met with an unsympathetic media response. The PBA provided the media with indisputable evidence of the city’s unscrupulous, calculated endeavor to discredit the officers’ admirable reputation in the view of the citizens of Tampa, but the media refused to present that information to the citizens for consideration. The PBA also expended a considerable amount of research and time to provide the members of the Tampa City Council with accurate information regarding disputed items to be heard at the City Council Impasse Meeting, backing all claims with documentation pertaining to the source of that information. The city countered by scheduling a meeting with council members in the Mayor’s Conference Room. The meeting was open to the public, per Florida Government in the Sunshine laws, and was attended by the PBA Board of Directors. The PBA was not permitted to address or refute any information provided by the city, but we did get to witness another round of dissemination of falsehoods by the city administration. We were even treated to members of council being threatened with bearing the burden of being held responsible for hundreds of layoffs if they sided with the officers or firefighters in maintaining the Step Plan as status quo. As the impasse process progressed we witnessed some incredible acts of partiality by some members of council. Although council becomes an impartial quasi-judicial body, by PERC rules, for the purpose of resolving disputed contract issues, two council persons elected to show their partiality. One stated on television that he sided with the mayor on the issues immediately upon the city’s declaration of impasse. In all fairness though, this council person did say he would vote in favor of the PBA if some of the members discussing issues with him could figure out a particular card trick he performed in front of them. The PBAmembers did the honorable thing and ended the discussion. The other council member openly backed the mayor’s issues during the meeting in the Mayor’s Conference Room. What a tremendous showing of impartiality for these two to arrive at a decision before hearing the facts at the City Council Impasse Meeting. We can only be grateful that these two are not presiding over any of our criminal cases. One member of council, Joe Caetano, was interested in the real facts from the beginning. He questioned numbers and sought proof of claims presented to him. Mr. Caetano took the honorable stance of not succumbing to the threats of causing layoffs and made an informed decision based on the information heard at the Council Impasse Meeting. He intelligently filtered out the untruthful information that was presented and only considered what could be proven as fact. For his principled and praiseworthy stance on rendering a decision that some may consider unpopular, I extend my deepest gratitude. On December 2, 2009, Council voted 5-1 in favor of the city, claiming they had to take the city at its word in its claim of dire economic times. It did not matter that the city falsely claimed it had experienced deficits in the past few years when it was proven the city actually made profits ranging from $89 million to $156 million since 2006. Those voting in favor of the city effectively placed a dollar value on police officers and that dollar value is something less than .65 of one percent of police payroll. Five members of council chose to exercise selective ignorance on that day and impose the most inequitable contract in memory. These members became accomplices to the city’s claim of “equity” by forcing nearly half of the police officers to perform the same work as their counterparts at a greatly reduced rate of pay. The “freezing” of the Step Plan was the single-most unconscionable act of discrimination toward employees by a city that touts its “no tolerance” stand on discrimination.
After the lambasting of the police officers one council person proclaimed, “We are all in this together.” Unfortunately, his proclamation is as ill-informed as his decision at the Impasse Meeting. We are not in this together with those who choose to ignore facts, fail to question falsehoods, and render discriminating decisions. The officers of the Tampa Police Department are professional, honest, caring, impartial, and will remain as such. Much credibility has been lost through the actions of the city’s bargaining team and some members of council. Because of this, you cannot expect the officers to stand shoulder to shoulder with you and be in this together. You are on your own t
TAMPA-PBA Our Step Plan and Being Fair By Senior Vice President Jimmy Meier Good day fellow PBA members. Today I want to discuss the Impasse Hearing that was held on December 2nd at City Council chambers at City Hall. I was very proud that 300 to 400 officers came to city council to show support for our Step Plan. It was nice to see the panic in the eyes of the city clerk when she saw the vast number of officers. She called the Fire Marshal to try to clear the room. I saw the city hall officials and I saw it in their eyes that they were intimated by this large showing of officers. You could hear it in their voices when they were telling their exaggerated and inflated numbers to the city council members. City Hall made a tactical error when it did this to the Tampa Police and Fire Departments. The city now has to deal with a united voice between these two public safety departments. The officers who were at the hearing and the others who could not attend due to job requirements are now saying “us” and are no longer saying “me, me, me.” Ultimately, this might be a larger victory, a union is only as strong as its members. What I saw on December 2nd told me that we are a strong union. Be sure to tell your friends and family who on the City of Tampa City Council had your back and who did not. City Councilman Joseph Caetano understood the numbers and could see through the smoke and mirrors that City Hall put up and he had your back. Councilwoman Mary Mulhern did not attend; she said that she and her child were ill. The other council members who chose not to listen to the truth and be buffaloed by City Hall are as follows: Gwen Mill, Thomas Scott, Linda Saul-Sena, Charlie Miranda and John Dingfelder. These names should be burned into your memory— they are not to be trusted. Remember when Director of Human Resources Kimberly Crum was at the podium and trying to explain that it would not be fair to give any officer a step increase and that if anyone got a step increase since October 1st, those officers need to be rolled back to their previous step and they need to pay back money. These City Hall officials keep repeating that it would not be fair if some people got a step and others do not. According to a July 17th response to a public records request, these fairminded people are just barely getting by on the following salaries: Finance Director Bonnie Wise $160,659; City Attorney “Chip” Fletcher $158,372; Chief of Staff Darrell Smith $153,005; Director of Human Resources Kimberly Crum $132,163. Their views are typical of these so-called leaders. They talk about the layoffs in their departments, but do they do anything in a personal way to help those employees? Absolutely not! On a completely different note, I am retiring from the Tampa Police Department and leaving the Tampa Police Benevolent Association on January 7th, 2010. I have been with the department a little over 24 years. I could not have worked with a finer group of officers than the ones here at this department. I have had the opportunity to see and work with officers from other agencies from around the country. The officers here are head and shoulders above those officers. To those supervisors here at the Department, please do not forget your roots. The officers in the patrol division are the backbone of the department. Like any structure, if it gets too stressed, the structure becomes weakened and fractured. Detective Rick Cochran will be taking my spot here at the office. I can assure you that this union will be stronger in the future and that is mostly due to you, the valuable members of the Tampa PBA. KIB 459, I am outta here. Citizen Jimmy Meier