How YOUR DC Police Union is Representing YOUR Interests
Members: I hope this message finds you all well. I wanted to take this opportunity to clarify YOUR DC Police Union’s position when it comes to retention and the initiatives the Department/City have proposed. Additionally, I believe some clarification is necessary regarding yesterday’s City Paper article focusing on retention.
I will not dispute the facts of that article, but I feel the views expressed were to simplistic (or general) when addressing the whole problem. Thus, unfairly addressing the reasons officers are leaving. While I don’t think anyone would argue that we are losing officers, however, it is not as easy a fix as some would have you think. Pointing fingers at only the Chief or City Officials only assigns blame to part of the problem.
Your Union has been entrenched in a decades long battle, with the Department and the City, fighting and litigating with no end in sight. These types of battles have, in the past and present, set the tone for how the Union and the Department would conduct their daily dealings. The only victim of this back and forth is you, the member. It’s been the long standing joke that the Union and Department could not meet in the same room without having to arbitrate what they wanted to have for lunch. In just the short amount of time that I have been the Chairman, this has changed. I can now sit in the same room, with the Chief, and talk about the serious issues effecting the people I represent, my members. The mistakes of the past have done nothing for you. Your collective needs and wants have gone unrepresented. Ultimately, after this 10 year battle, you, the members, have been detrimentally effected: our current contract remains locked in litigation, the previous negotiations resulted in an impasse arbitration. and time is running out. I hear what a lot of you are saying, “we lost.”
Moving forward, retention is not a single issue problem. We have to attack this problem on multiple fronts. You, the members, feel you have been neglected by both the Department and the Union. We have known for some time now that our Agency was going to be entering the “retirement bubble”. We have known for several years that we are going to be lose some of our best and brightest to retirement. We are also losing our younger officers, however, that is a more complicated problem. I know we lose some of them for morale type issues, working conditions, and the like, however, we are also losing officers because of transiency. Smaller police departments aren’t or can’t hire at the rate we hire folks. We are a very transient city in every aspect and job category. People come here to work and get a lot of experience then go home, to work, when they have openings on their local police departments. An officer can come to work for MPD and get years worth of experience in just a few short months. This makes them a more viable candidate to any smaller police department. I’m not sure how to persuade our young officer determined to police, in their hometown, however, I do know how to persuade those younger officers leaving for other reasons: improved working conditions.
I feel the Mayor and Chief’s plans for the Senior Police Officer and Lateral/Experienced Officer Program will help stem this “retirement bubble” tide. Additionally, I have been working with the Ed Smith, the President of the DC Fire Fighters Union Local 36, to institute a Deferred Retirement Option Program (DROP) and get that on the legislative calendar. Two-thirds, however, of these programs only benefit those ready to retire. We have to find a way to retain and keep our non-retiring/younger members. This is where negotiating and bargaining comes into play.
I can only do that by negotiating a new contract and working on our future compensation clauses, but more so on the non-compensation clauses that effect the daily quality of life issues you are all facing. We have 16 months before our current contract expires, however, we can’t begin to work on our new contract because the current contract is tied up in the DC Court of Appeals. We need to pull our current contract out of litigation thus avoiding any more damage to you. You would think that’s an easy task, however, there are still supporters of the Union’s past practices, in our organization and inner circle, whom are focused on derailing my team’s initiatives. Alas, what they fail to understand is: I was elected with roughly 60% of your vote. Your voice will far outweigh anything they try to do. You are ready for change. That is why you elected me. That is what I can and will promise you.
I hope all my members have a safe weekend and a memorable Memorial Day.
Posted May 27 2016 at 1:53 PM by Matthew N. Mahl | Permanent Link