If the sergeants in the St. Louis Police Department want real representation and someone to fight for their rights, their dignity, their paychecks and benefits, it’s only the St. Louis Police Officers Association Lodge 68 (SLPOA), said Fraternal Order of Police (FOP) National President Chuck Canterbury at a rally of police officers and sergeants. Canterbury has a 26-year career as a working street cop as well as serving in the Operations, Criminal Investigations and the Training divisions of the Horry County Police Department, Conway, S.C.
SLPOA is an affiliate of the FOP, the nation’s largest police officers union, with over 300,000 members in 2200 local unions in 44 states. “When you are a member of Lodge 68, you have the entire resources of our national union at your disposal to help you when it’s needed,” Canterbury stressed to sergeants.
The 214 sergeants will be voting on June 14 to determine who will represent them, the SLPOA which represents the rank-and-file and probationary officers or the PLO (Police Leadership Organization) that’s made up of the police chief and the top ranking officers, not rank-and-file policemen.
Asking how a group of managers could begin to negotiate with themselves to represent the sergeants’ needs, or even call out the chief when sergeants had a grievance, Canterbury made the point that, “We believe that cops should bargain for cops.”
“I can promise you without hesitation that if you elect the SLPOA, you will have the best representation you can have,” Canterbury added.
SLPOA President David Bonenberger, a police sergeant, pointed out that, “We have a hulluva fight on our hands,” describing the upcoming election. “Having sat on the PLO’s board of directors for over two years, I can tell you unequivocally that our union has the services and support that will work for you!”
SERVICES AVAILABLE TO SERGEANTS
And those services are extensive, Canterbury pointed out, services that simply cannot be matched by the PLO, services such as a:
• Labor Services Division that helps with collective bargaining, training of negotiators, contract administration and much more.
• Legal Defense Plan designed specifically to cover the law enforcement exposures faced by members of the FOP. The plan pays legal defense costs on behalf
of participating members.
• Research Department that has an extensive database on all FOP union contracts to aid local negotiations, and a full-time staff to help lodges with research on issues related to law enforcement.
• Legislative Advocacy Center, where five full-time employees maintain an office in Washington, D.C. to actively lobby Congress and the Administration on the issues most important to rank-and-file law enforcement officers. The FOP’s legislative program is the most active and comprehensive of any law enforcement organization in Washington.
FULL-TIME STAFF HERE
Canterbury made the point that in addition to the national union resources, the FOP has a state office in Missouri with full-time staff and that the SLPOA has a full-time executive, Jeff Roorda, who is on call constantly to service police officers.
Roorda told the crowd that the SLPOA’s two major goals for sergeant’s bargaining would be overtime pay and full funding for sergeant’s overtime pay.
Pointing out that the PLO made a grandstand play for sergeant’s support in the election by announcing a lawsuit against the Police Board for overtime pay, he said that a lawsuit could delay the issue for years.
“The place to win overtime is in collective bargaining, not litigating it in the courts first,” Roorda stressed, noting that in winning their first contract for police officers, the SLPOA was able to win “the strongest contract in Missouri among police unions.”
WHERE WERE THEY BEFORE?
State FOP President Kevin Ahlbrand, a St. Louis sergeant, asked THE pertinent question:
“The PLO has been here for about 16 years, where were they before representing sergeants before the SLPOA filed for an election? St. Louis has the best contract in the state. How could the PLO negotiate with the very same people they work for, the people that control their futures?”
He complimented the SLPOA for having the foresight to hire a full-time person (Jeff Roorda) to spend the time that’s really needed for servicing the union’s new contract.