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Scranton Police Union official requesting labor support

03.15.09

March 2009 Scranton/Wilkes-Barre/Hazleton edition of The Union News

Scranton Police Union official requesting labor support

BY PAUL TUCKER
THEUNIONNEWSSWB@AOL.COM

SCRANTON, February 26th- Bob Martin, President of the Fraternal Order of Police (FOP) Union Lodge #2, which represents approximately 159 members of the Scranton Police Department, sent a letter to members of the labor community stating he would be more than happy to come to union meetings and explain that the labor contract Scranton Mayor Chris Doherty has proposed would destroy their union.

“I am writing to ask for your help and support in a long and hard fought labor dispute with Mayor Christopher Doherty and his administration. We have been without a cost of living adjustment since 2001 with the only relief being a possible court award of a 7.5 percent salary increase for the period of 2002 through 2007 (less than 1.5 percent a year). However, along with that increase state courts have given Scranton unbearable management rights, effectively allowing them to make unilateral changes that have destroyed our contract and devastated police families,” states the letter obtained by the newspaper from Mr. Martin, who is also a member of the International Brotherhood of Teamsters Union (IBT) Local 229 with a withdrawal card. Mr. Martin was a IBT member while employed by the Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission and later worked for Consolidated Freightways in Mount Pocono.

“This is not entirely about us. Mayor Doherty has allied with state officials to break every municipal union contract in the state. Their goal is to break these contracts under the guise of “Act 47,” Pennsylvania’s Financially Distressed Act, by imposing so-called “Management Rights” to eliminate many of our rights, including seniority and bidding rights. As we all know, once they have accomplished this, there is virtually no union left. Make no mistake: This is a statewide movement,” adds Mr. Martin.

Mr. Doherty is seeking a third four-year term as Mayor of Scranton in 2009. Four years ago, he defeated fellow Democrat Gary DiBileo in the Primary Election and again in the November General Election after Mr. DiBileo was successful in winning enough write-in votes of the Republican party members. Mr. DiBileo announced he will again challenge Mr. Doherty for the Democratic nomination in 2009.

Both the International Association of Firefighters (IAFF) Union Local 60, which represents around 143 members of the Scranton Fire Department and FOP Lodge #2 have been without labor contracts with the City of Scranton since December 2002. The union members have not received a wage increase since Janaury 2002.

According to David Schreiber, President of IAFF Local 60, under Mr. Doherty’s contract proposal, 38 firefighters would be eliminated. Currently under contract language, the fire department should have 150 members, a decrease of 50 from several contracts before.

Mr. Schreiber said Mr. Doherty has not shown how the fire department could be run with only 112 firefighters, but has indicated closing some of the neighborhood firehouses will be neccessary.

He believes cutting the department by 38 firefighters will put Scranton citizens in harms way. Scranton is the third largest municipality in Pennsylvania at 26 square miles, trailing only Philadelphia and Pittsburgh. Also, most of the building construction of homes within the city is wood and built prior to World War 2.

“I ask for your help and support, because you know that this kind of anti-union descent can spread like wild fire during these hard economic times. Our opposition believes Pennsylvania should be a right to work state. In these hard economic times and the pressure on every union in the country to make concessions, we all need to stand together to protect our livelihoods and our families. We need to unite and remove these politicians from office.

If you would like, I would be more than happy to come to your union meeting and explain our plight in person and present our plan. My phone number is 570-499-3358. I hope to hear from you soon,” continues Mr. Martin’s letter.

Although the letter was intended to be read only by members of the labor community, when contacted by the newspaper Mr. Martin expressed he had no problem with a story being published about the correspondence.

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