City Manager Chuck Strome has given notice to New Rochelle Police Association that the City is cancelling an agreement between the City and the Union regarding overtime for New Rochelle police officers. The decision comes in response to a recent ruling by the New York State Public Employment Relations Board which requires the City to pay back years of overtime pay which could total over $1.5 million.
The move is widely seen among the rank and file of the New Rochelle Police Department as retaliation in the wake of the PERB ruling and adds another sour note to the City's relationship with its police union which has been under strain due to the current job freeze and the 2010 proposed budget which calls for a smaller police force.
The retaliation has become personal with New Rochelle Police Association President Eddie Hayes having been passed over four time's for promotion to Sergeant despite scoring high enough on the Sergeant's test to qualify for promotion each time.
Up until 2001, only Police Association members worked overtime with assignments doled out through a monthly lottery drawing. A dispute in 2002 led Police Commissioner Carroll to ban the performance of all off-duty jobs. The Police Association filed charges and a month later Carroll restored all off-duty work except for work near bars. In 2004 the City and the Police Association entered into an agreement which settled the 2002 off-duty work charge under which the work was established directly the Police Commissioner and under which the City billed the vendors (at a new higher rate) and the officers were paid directly by the City and a rate of "time and a half". The new arrangement went into effect in 2005. That agreement will now come to and end in March 2010.
In her PREB ruling, Administrative Law Judge Angela M. Blassman ruled that the City of New Rochelle Police Department had violated the Public Employees Fair Employment Act when it assigned nonunion superior officers to work special-duty details previously performed exclusively by Association unit employees. The Judge ordered the City of New Rochelle to immediately "cease and desist" assigning off-duty detail work to senior officers, restore all work to members of the Police Association, make whole employees in the Police Association for lost wages and benefits at the maximum legal rate and conspicuously post a notice of the decision.