The City of Boston will pay $16.5 million to police patrolmen to settle a 16-year-old labor dispute over policing the city’s public housing developments.
“It’s a fair conclusion to a long outstanding legal dispute,’’ Thomas J. Nee, president of the Boston Police Patrolmen’s Association (BPPA) declared. “We’re glad it’s behind us.’’
According to the Boston Globe, “[t]he award covers a nine-year period ending in 2003 in which members of the now defunct Boston Municipal Police Department were assigned to properties owned by the Boston Housing Authority”.
The state Division of Labor ruled that work there legally belonged to the Boston Police Patrolmen’s Association.
Police officers who served the city between 1994 and 2003 will divide up the $16.5 million, which comes out to approximately $1.8 million per year. The award is to cover wages the union members lost when the city placed members of the now defunct Municipal Police Department into Boston’s numerous housing projects.
“This has been an open-ended issue for the city for a long time, and it was important to bring it to closure,’’ said John Dunlap, the city’s director of labor relations.
This settlement is the result of an unfair labor practices lawsuit first filed by the BPPA in 1994. The union initially won the case when a hearing officer from the Labor Relations Commission (LRC) ruled in their favor in 1996. The hearing officer ruled that the city had failed to allow the BPPA an opportunity to bargain in good faith for work in the housing projects.
The city appealed the ruling to the full LRC, which upheld the hearing officer’s decision. In an order dated March 10, 2000, the commission directed the city and the union to “jointly determine the proper amount of compensation due’’ to patrolmen. The vagueness of the award led to over 10 years of haggling over the monetary payout.
The city appealed to the state Appeals Court, which affirmed the ruling in May 2003. The city attempted to appeal further to the State Supreme Judicial Court (SJC), however they declined to hear the case.
Upon exhausting its legal appeals, the city removed municipal police officers from Housing Authority properties in September 2003. Boston police officers were then given jurisdiction in the projects. The Municipal Police Department was eliminated when was absorbed into the Boston Police in January 2007. Interestingly enough, the BPPA unsuccessfully attempted to halt the merger with a lawsuit.
“By eliminating the Boston Municipal Police in 2007, the city has taken steps to prevent this type of exposure in the future,’’ Dunlap said.
Anticipating this decision, the city previously put money aside to pay the award.