The Role of the FOP in Today's Economic Climate
In these tough economic times officers across the country are being asked to make all manner of concessions and sacrifices as the result of budgetary shortfalls. What can the Fraternal Order of Police do to assist our members in answering the demands being made by public employers?
Each situation is unique, but here are some things to keep in mind as well as possible tactics that your lodge leadership may employ to help find the best solution for your members:
- Identify the bigger picture. What is management trying to achieve and how do they plan to go about it? Will they be trying to convince the citizens to vote on or accept a tax increase?
- Understand the economics of your community. The economy impacts each community in different ways. Lodges should not rely on what the government alone is telling them. The lodge should find an independent source of reliable information about the economy in their area.
- Understand the short and long term effects of what the employer is suggesting. Remember that employers are trying to deal with
a pressing issue, but they will also take advantage of the situation to change items that they have disliked for years.
- Understand how other unions in your community have dealt with this issue.
- Understand how other FOP lodges across the country have dealt with this issue.
- Think of ways to address any economic issues that do not have a long term negative impact on your members. Keep in mind the effects on pensions.
- Communicate with your members. Listen to what they are saying. Know what they are thinking. Do not just listen to the most vocal members; it is important to get a read on how all members view the issue.
- If you give up anything, be sure to get something for it. Think of non-economic problems that need to be fixed in return for your concessions.
- Consider the public relations aspects of your potential position. A number of units are going to be making some concessions. Think about how to turn any potential concessions to the FOP's advantage within the community.
- Do not let your government leaders back you into a corner!
Here are some of the types of economic accommodations that are being committed to by units across the country. You need to determine whether or not these are good for your unit in both the short and long term. Be creative and think about what will work in your situation!
- Agreeing not to be paid for a raise or bonus that is already scheduled.
- Agreeing to no increase in a given year. (Note the difference in long term impact between these two.)
- Agreeing to give back time off that is banked.
- Agreeing to reduce the accrual of time off. (Note the difference in long term impact between these two.)
- Taking unpaid time off, commonly called furlough days.
- Law Enforcement Officers being laid off. Ask yourself: What is in the best interest of the entire membership? How long can the public employer keep these officers off the job without a public backlash?
- Agreeing to take home car fees, increased premium contributions for health care, other types of deductions.
- Agreeing to have officers contribute to an FOP charity that is used to provide money to the city for certain expenses. Here is what the NFOP is doing to assist its local lodges:
- The NFOP Labor Services Division is working with Lodges across the country to provide advice and guidance. Additional paid services are also available to all FOP lodges.
- The NFOP Labor Services Division research section serves as a clearinghouse for information on all labor issues, including information on how lodges are dealing with this and many other issues.
This is a difficult situation for all parties, but it is important that you do not just react out of hand. Understand your options, and work with your membership to determine what is best for your unit.
Now is your time. Be the leader.NFOP Labor Services Division
222 E. Town St.
Columbus, Ohio 43215