Battle between police unions lands in court

BETHLEHEM, NY &#8211 The town’s police unions have taken a dispute over fundraising proceeds to court after the Police Supervisors Association filed a lawsuit against the Police Benevolent Association.

The department’s lieutenants and sergeants split from the PBA and formed their own supervisors union in 2008, but agreed not to compete with the PBA’s annual fundraising campaign, in which letters soliciting donations are sent to residents.

The disagreement stems from the proceeds from that campaign. In documents filed in Albany County Court, the supervisors allege both unions agreed to divide the proceeds from fundraisers even after the split, but the supervisors haven’t gotten any of the money since 2009. The proceeds were to be shared based on a ratio of members in the PBA vs. those in the supervisors unions, documents state.

The lawsuit alleges the supervisors are owed 7/38ths of the proceeds of all fundraisers since 2009.

But PBA President Scott Hanson said that was not the case.

“The understanding was you guys are on your own,” he said.

When the supervisors formed their own union in 2008, the PBA gave them 7/38ths of the treasury, or about $34,000, a ratio determined by many were leaving the PBA, Hanson said. However, he said from that point on, no agreement was made to continue splitting funds.

Hanson said he thought the supervisors would take over the PBA’s annual roast, which the PBA agreed to discontinue, but the event has not happened.

Hanson and Sgt. Steve Kraz, the president of the supervisors union, said it is not clear how much money the supervisors are seeking since the costs of conducting the fundraiser would have to be inserted into the equation.

“We hope to resolve this amicably between us and the PBA,” Kraz said. “I have reached out to Scott (Hanson) in an effort to resolve the matter.”

Hanson said the disagreement has been going on for years, and while he was surprised to see a lawsuit filed, relations are still amicable within the department.

“If two people can’t agree, you’re looking for a third party to figure it out,” he said. “We’re all still working together. We’re not that big a place.”

From The Albany Times Union.