Thursday, February 1, 2007 12:00 a.m.
On January 27th the Home News and Tribute
published an editorial in
which they blasted the Perth Amboy PBA and accused them of being
responsible for the layoffs of eight Perth Amboy police officers that
occurred last week. The piece was entitled Eight Men Out Police
A few paragraphs from the article:
Eight Perth Amboy police officers are without jobs today for no
better or more complicated reason than their union leaders are
stubborn to a fault.
City Hall called for the positions to be eliminated in the fall,
along with 12 firefighters' jobs, when it became apparent that
revenues for the upcoming 2007 municipal budget would fall short.
Rather than treat the layoffs as a done deal, however, city
officials made it clear the jobs could be saved if the police and
fire unions were willing to accept some contract concessions.
The fire union, mindful of the city's precarious financial position,
sat down and worked out a deal. The agreement didn't take much.
Affected firefighters were able to keep their jobs by deferring two
years of salary increases, freeing up $311,859 to help balance next
year's budget. The cuts were painful, it's true, but fair, given the
difficulty of the times.
The police union could have taken a similar deal. In fact, it had
agreed to a compromise, but union leaders later reneged on that
Mayor Joseph Vas is fuming over that broken promise. And in his
defense, he has every reason to stew. So do the eight cops who were
left out in the cold by their so-called union brothers. In the end,
PBA leaders were willing to sacrifice all eight just so union chiefs
could look tough in preparation for the next time negotiations roll
around. Vanity played a part, too.
Christopher Croes, president of Police Benevolent Association Local
13, said the city could have pursued other avenues to prevent the
layoffs. "Ultimately, it was the city's decision to lay off the
officers," he claimed.
Baloney. It was his and his negotiating team's choice.
Because of it, a city and its citizens lose.
Eh, not so fast.
“Take concessions or we will lay some of you off.”
This is one of the oldest management ruses in the book. It’s a fantastic
method to fracture unity within a union membership.
Fortunately, most business administrators are ethical and we don’t see
this used much anymore. And, really, there is just no reason for it.
Think about it. When a municipality or any organization pulls this
stunt, usually one of two things is happening: Either they’re trying to
remedy their own financial disaster brought on by poor manpower planning
or they’re using an ultra-slimy negotiating tactic.
We're not at all saying that this was the case here, but we are saying
that a bright-line strategy of accepting concessions when faced with the threat of
layoffs would be absolutely disastrous.
FOP and PBA locals have spent the past three decades negotiating law
enforcement from the food stamps line to a decent living. Perhaps
we should stick to what has been working rather than accept collective
bargaining advice from the media.
In all fairness, we concede that we're not privy to the
behind-the-scenes details of these layoffs. However, the City of Perth Amboy needs to be very careful in
setting their priorities. There is a reason that this city needs 125
Perth Amboy has almost 50,000 people squeezed into a 4 ˝ square-mile
patch of land. It is a very busy town with a very busy police
department, and their gang problem is only getting worse.
On January 15th the city laid off eight police officers to save money.
Nine days later the city
accepted a one-million-dollar bid to modernize
an already built waterfront park.
It's got to make you think.
Getting back to the editorial, it seemed to have more bitter references
toward police than it needed. Perhaps the negative slant against
the Perth Amboy police union had more to do with the author's true
feelings toward law enforcement rather than his sudden concern for eight
laid off cops.
Then again, maybe we're full of "baloney" too.
If any of the laid off officers are reading this and need assistance
getting picked up, please
us and we'll do what we can to help.
Thursday, February 1, 2007 12:00 a.m.