Mayor ends talks with union; mayor: police strike threat is illegal
Dawn House , The Salt Lake Tribune
(SALT LAKE CITY) -- Mayor Rocky Anderson has stopped contract talks with the police union and asked for an investigation of what he said is the union's illegal threat to strike during the 2002 Olympics.
Anderson called a news conference Friday night to denounce union President David Greer's "unprofessional, illegal and bad-faith negotiating tactics," in threatening the job action.
The mayor related a Friday afternoon meeting with Greer in which the two were to discuss an unrelated take-home-car policy for police officers. Anderson said Greer changed the topic to the contract. When the mayor refused to discuss the contract away from the negotiating table, Greer purportedly stormed out of the room. There were no witnesses to the argument.
Anderson said Greer threatened to tell the 500 members of the Salt Lake City Police Officers Association that the mayor "had lied to them" and that police would "strike during the Olympics."
Anderson pointed to a city ordinance that forbids employees and police from striking, and said such a threat could be a firing offense.
"I don't believe the police will strike," Anderson said of the union, which endorsed him during his 1999 campaign. "They know the law says if they strike, they'll be terminated . . . And if Greer thinks otherwise because the police union endorsed me, he doesn't know me very well."
Anderson also released a transcript of a telephone call Greer made to Frank Frasier, the city labor relations manager, to call off a meeting scheduled for March 27. The negotiations had a final deadline of April 1.
"You guys can just take the contract and shove it," Greer is quoted as saying. "We're going to work without a contract and you can expect the picket line . . . You guys just go straight to hell."
Greer could not be reached Friday for comment, and he did not respond to the Police Department's attempts to reach him, a dispatcher said.
At issue in the now-defunct talks was a difference in compensation, with the city offering a 2.2 percent increase and the union asking for an 8.1 percent hike. The mayor now will recommend a compensation package directly to the City Council, bypassing the police union.
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