I’m very interested in learning how to start a police union at my department. We have nine officers, but two are brass. Recently, our city council created a new position for a zoning and fire-code enforcement officer with starting pay at $20.20 an hour. Then they filled it with a good friend of the borough manager with no competitive process for the job.
I’ve been a cop here for six years and make only $12.70 an hour. I have a great medical plan for the whole family and don’t pay a thing, which is nice. However, during our last contract, the borough manager refused to give us any substantial raise and claimed the borough was broke.
They seem to spend money left and right on everything except us. I don’t know where to begin, but I do know all our cops want an organization that specializes in police unions. I’d be grateful if you could provide me with any information about this.
I’ve written previously on how to convince the troops a union is a good idea to help secure pay, benefits and protections for good hard-working cops. I want to revisit it because Wanna Union here took it a step further. He wants to know how to actually get a union up and running against the backdrop of a bunch of lying council members and an unethical scumbag of a borough manager.
Ol’ Bullethead has done a thing or two in my days, but I’ve never had to stand up a union from nothing. So, I’ll start with some things I do know a thing or two about. For one thing, your borough manager sounds more like a mob boss than an ethical public servant. Creating positions and filling them with his cronies is horribly unethical and probably illegal unless they wrote the position as an appointed one. But if the clown who took that job has civil-service protections, I’ll bet the city has rules concerning the posting of positions and the correct way to get a person hired. Don’t sweat that, though. Just write it down and start keeping a book on all the filthy junk your borough manager and anyone else at his level does.
Then, the best thing to do would be to call in some outside agency that has a public corruption unit. Give them all your notes about the illegal and unethical things these chumps are pulling and wave at the borough manager when he’s taken to jail. It shouldn’t take too long because I’m sure he’s doing more than just hiring his friends. Out yonder in Bullethead-land, that would be the DA’s office, the state branch of the Department of Justice or the FBI.
Now, I’m not saying the problem is any less important where you work, but unfortunately those units are as overworked as every other cop, and they usually look for bigger marks than you typically find in a nine-cop town. But keep taking notes on this unethical jackass’s behavior and whip those out quicker than you pull your gun on a guy coming out a window in the middle of the night when you get to the negotiations table.
You need to know your playing field for those notes to mean anything—just like you know the case law that regulates us all—so study the city charter, the civil-service rules and the human-resources policy for your city. Every time the council or borough manager steps across the line, write it down with all the details. When the union is up and running, those notes are bats you’ll swing at the heads of the city leadership to get your pay where it should be.
Now, getting a union up and going is about as far from my sweet spot as a chihuahua is from a police K-9. The one thing ol’ Bullethead does know is that there’s always a big brother or friendly uncle more than happy to help some hard-working cops get their act together. Go straight to the Fraternal Order of Police (FOP). These folks will tell you to either hit up the state lodge or national lodge of the FOP in your area. They’re experts in getting a union going, helping with negotiations and getting your officers represented.
More importantly, their sweet spot is police officers and police unions. Actually, it’s their only spot. You should have no problem finding the FOP. Just search for them on the Internet, and you’re in business.
You have your marching orders, Wanna Union. Get to it and get your pay up so you can go back to arresting the bad guys.
Got a question or complaint?
Let Bullethead hear about it. He’ll give you his opinion with both barrels.
E-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org
or fax him at 619/699-6246.