MCKINNEY, TX – It’s been a rocky year for the McKinney Police Department.
Now a local police group is suing the city and the other police association in McKinney for allegedly conspiring to violate its members’ constitutional rights to free speech and association.
The McKinney Fraternal Order of Police Lodge No. 107 — which represents 51 officers — filed a lawsuit in federal court Wednesday. It complains about two provisions in a July agreement between the city and the McKinney Police Association, which represents 149 officers and serves as the police department’s exclusive bargaining agent.
The meet-and-confer agreement states that the city won’t authorize payroll deductions for membership dues on behalf of a group other than the “collective bargaining agent” for police officers. It also bans groups other than the bargaining agent from using the bulletin boards in the police department.
“This exclusive authorization of MPA to use City facilities for communication purposes to all McKinney Police Officers promotes MPA’s political viewpoints to the exclusion of the viewpoints of Lodge 107?s members,” wrote the lodge’s attorneys in court records.
And, Lodge 107 warned, its inability to collect membership dues through voluntary payroll deductions will hurt its ability to retain members and recruit others. It’s asking a federal court to prohibit the city and the McKinney Police Association from implementing “the unconstitutional contract provisions.”
City spokeswoman Anna Clark said in an email that McKinney officials had no comment on the lawsuit but that the city will “vigorously defend” itself against all the claims.
I’m waiting to hear back from the McKinney Police Association.
The meet-and-confer agreement is effective through September 2017. It was designed to improve wages and encourage other benefits for police officers.
In a press release, Lodge 107 President Daniel Malenfant described the problem as “good ole boy politics.”
“It is not the intent of the McKinney FOP to take away from the negotiations the McKinney Police Association has done with the City of McKinney and the additional benefits they have obtained for employees,” Malenfant wrote. “This lodge, which is very active in the McKinney community, is simply asking not to be discriminated against for not being members of the city endorsed organization.”
Ten officers formed Lodge 107 five years ago to offer McKinney police a second representation option “based on fairness, equality and integrity,” according to the group’s website.
Lodge 107 had been able to get membership dues through payroll deductions for the past four years, and it had used the bulletin boards for the last three years, according to the lawsuit.