Rochester Police Union Moves To Block Reorganization

ROCHESTER, NY – Rochester’s police union has formally accused city officials of negotiating in bad faith over plans to reorganize how officers patrol the city.

The Locust Club made this claim and others in an improper labor practice charge filed Monday with the state Public Employment Relations Board.

The union also asked the state board to temporarily block the police reorganization, which is supposed to kick in March 30, until its complaints are addressed.

“Our concern is to stop everything, keep everything status quo, while we try to negotiate and work out our concerns and our issues,” said Michael Mazzeo, president of the Rochester Locust Club, on Tuesday.

The union’s move is an apparent escalation of a brewing disagreement between Mayor Lovely Warren’s administration and the police union over plans to reorganize patrols into five major sections instead of two.

The change was a major campaign promise for Warren, who said just last week that the new system will help to improve relations between police and residents.

Mazzeo previously said the union doesn’t oppose the reorganization itself — in fact, it’s supported the idea in the past. Mazzeo has said the Locust Club takes issue instead with the way the city wants to go about the changes.

Police Chief Michael Ciminelli said Tuesday the city announced its plan nearly a year ago and that he believes officers remain overwhelmingly supportive of the reorganization.

“This plan is now, as it always has been, about safer streets, about a better way to police this community, both for the community and our police officers, and we’re confident we’re going in a good direction and we’re just going to keep focused on that,” he said.

But Mazzeo said the union has many unanswered questions about how the reorganization will affect everything from officers’ hours and vacation plans to how seniority will play into assignments.

Among other complaints, the union’s charge said Warren has publicly stated that the reorganization will kick in March 30, despite the fact that the city has yet to reach an agreement with the Locust Club on how officers will be transferred or assigned to new sections.

“The Locust Club submits that the city’s statements and conduct demonstrate a complete lack of any willingness to engage in actual negotiations and unwillingness to even consider altering its plan as previously developed,” the charge said.

The document says the city posted new assignments for each of the five new sections on Feb. 13 and gave members until Feb. 22 to submit transfer requests. The city also has been holding training on the new model over the union’s objections, the charge says.

The union has many unanswered questions about how the reorganization will affect everything from officers’ hours and vacation plans to how seniority will play into assignments, Mazzeo said.

The charge goes on to accuse the city of improperly dealing directly with the union’s members, failing to provide key information and repudiating the police contract and an agreement that deals with regular starting and quitting times.

Earlier this month, Mazzeo said the union objected to the city’s plan to reorganize patrols without putting new substations in each division. Warren, however, said the city has been clear about this aspect of the plan for about a year.

From The Democrat & Chronicle

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