The Lincoln Plawg - the blog with footnotes

Politics and law from a British perspective (hence Politics LAW BloG): ''People who like this sort of thing...'' as the Great Man said

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Wednesday, June 09, 2004

Cops' Boston Party misses a trick

I'm strangely drawn back to the dispute (piece earlier today) which threatens John Kerry's coronation at the Democratic Convention.

On how exactly Moron Menino got himself in this absurd position - to go all out for the Convention to come to Boston, knowing that the city's cops had been out of contract since July 2002 and the Boston Police Patrolman's Association had a long history of militancy - I'm none the wiser.

The Herald today points out just how what is at stake in pure numbers:
This week, city negotiators offered the Boston Police Patrolmen's Association a cumulative wage increase of 11.9 percent over four years if the union agreed to enter expedited arbitration, a process that would produce a contract before the Democratic National Convention begins July 26.

That figure is well under the BPPA's own proposal, which is said to be about 17 percent. The difference is at least $5.4 million at the end of the contract, based on a current base salary of $53,426.

According to a New York Times piece, the BPPA has 1,400 members - that makes a total cost, at base salary, of around $77 million - which puts the $5.4 million number in right ball-park.

Context: according to a 2003 press release, the proposed 2004 operating budget for the City of Boston was $1.75 billion. An AP piece puts the cost of preparing the Fleet Center for the Convention at $14 million [1].

A measly five big ones? Give 'em the dough, surely?

What about the other Boston city employees who've not signed contracts? A surrender to the cops would, like the proverbial tide, raise all boats - or expectations. Perhaps there are even comparability clauses in existing contracts that could result in increases or renegotiations.

Besides, Menino's got the national spotlight on him - getting brighter as the Convention gets closer. Even if the guy hasn't political ambitions, he's not going to want to cringe on camera.

More from the Herald on the Boston cop's history of militancy - back to the famous 1919 strike, which had slipped my mind. It also points out that New York cops have also been out of contract for two years! The fun could be bipartisan this year...

News from the picket-line: the Herald calls it feisty and suggests that Menino may be opening up a Second Front [2]:
Some of the building trade unions have a close relationship with City Hall and may be preparing to buck their labor brethren - agreeing to get to work to retrofit the convention hall and leaving the protesting police union on its own.

The no-strike agreement - Project Labor Agreement or PLA - rejected by the Greater Boston Labor Council - may still be signed by construction unions. Some workers are crossing the cop's line, feisty or not. (Did Boston's Finest bring their night-sticks?)

Strangely, I feel a Woody Guthrie song coming on!

The cops, in spirit of the current election fever (ha!), have an ad, analysed by the Globe - it is deeply misleading, natch - it suggests that Menino has
got nearly half a billion in the bank.
Whereas the cash he has at his disposal is more like $20 million. And it says Menino is
threatening our public safety.
though Boston cops are prevented by law from striking.

The Globe editorial today quotes BPPA president, Thomas Nee - friend of the CCPOA's Mike Jimenez, I wonder? - as saying
What's the first thing you do in warfare? You shut down the supply lines.

Menino has offered arbitration, and the BPPA have refused.

So, what to do? What if the DNC chipped in a couple of million? What if the Dems asked George Soros to redirect some of his largesse from them to the City of Boston, to meet, say, the renovation of a library.

The Dems should think of it as an exercise of their ability to think outside the box, and get the job done - all that jazz.

  1. The Herald piece says that
    Negotiations with the Service Employees International Union Local 888, which represents 2,300 of the city's lowest-paid workers, were going well until Monday, when a wage offer was pulled off the table.
    I'm guessing that's cop-related.

  2. Another Herald piece says
    The laborers and the carpenters are part of a coalition of trade unions that has given money to the DNC. Those unions benefit from Menino's generally pro-union and pro-development approach when it comes to big construction projects, observers said.

    The police union and its supporters have pointed to one obvious tie. The head of the Boston Building Trades Council, Joe Nigro, also sits on the board of City Hall's development arm, the Boston Redevelopment Authority, union critics noted. The BRA board gives the stamp of approval needed to move big development projects forward.

    That sounds like the Democratic Party we know and love! (Also, this piece and this)

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