Labor supports ‘local control’ for St. Louis on Nov. 6 ballot

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St. Louis – In a rare show of bi-partisan support, Democrats, Republicans, business and unions are all supporting Proposition A on the Nov. 6 ballot to bring local control of the St. Louis Police Department back to St. Louis.

Proposition A has the unanimous support of the labor movement: The St. Louis Police Officers Association (SLPOA- the union directly impacted), the Greater St. Louis Labor Council, the St. Louis Building & Construction Trades Council and the Missouri AFL-CIO.

Additionally, diverse business, civic and community groups, as well as other cities and towns and police chiefs across Missouri have endorsed the effort to bring local control back to St. Louis, one of only two cities in America to not have control of its police department. The other, not surprisingly, is Kansas City, both shackled by a Civic War law that allows state government to control both police departments. This law is not only outdated, but also costly to taxpayers.

POLICE OFFICERS ENDORSE

Jeff Roorda, SLPOA business manager said, "The SLPOA Executive Board passed a motion in support of the language in Prop A in November of 2011.  Prop A closely approximates the compromise legislation that the Association repeatedly supported when it was under consideration in the General Assembly.

“The compromise keeps matters like health insurance, survivor benefits, residency and, most importantly, pensions under the control of state statutes where they belong.  That's what's important to our members, retirees and widows and that is why we struck the compromise now on the ballot as Prop A."

NO RUMORS, JUST FACTS

Despite many rumors of confusion, here are the facts about Proposition A:

• It makes the St. Louis police department accountable to the people of St. Louis via a locally appointed Board of Police Commissioners.

• The residents of St. Louis, voting in a referendum in 2010, support the effort by a 70 percent margin.

• The St. Louis Police Officers Association representing St. Louis police officers, has endorsed, and promoted, the effort. The proposition protects the rights of St. Louis police officer and employees by guaranteeing collective bargaining rights and the continuation of pensions and health insurance benefits.

• Will protect against corruption and political meddling by specifically prohibiting retaliation against any police officer that reports illegal or unethical conduct.

• Is estimated to save city taxpayers and the state more than $4.5 million a year by eliminating duplicative services.

MAYOR SLAY SPEAKS TO THE ISSUE

"Local control of police is normal. Every other city, town and county in the country has it, except St. Louis and Kansas City,” said St. Louis Mayor Francis Slay.

“We worked with the St. Louis Police Officers Association to make sure the new law will be fair to them. Proposition A protects their pension and other benefits. It keeps politics out of police investigations. It ensures they will be treated fairly in disciplinary matters.

“Officers are already reaping the benefits. We worked with them for their first collective bargaining agreement ever. Despite the bad economy, we restored their pay matrix-- as promised.

“Change can be scary. But, this change is good for the citizens and the officers," the mayor stressed.

To get the law on the ballot, an initiative petition campaign guided by a citizens group, Safer Missouri Citizens Coalition, submitted more than 164,000 voter signatures.

OUTDATED LAW

This law has been in place for 150 years, dating back to 1861 and the Civil War, when pro-slavery politician and segregationist Governor Claiborne Jackson gave control of the St. Louis police department to a state board of political appointees because they didn’t want the Unionist City of St. Louis to control the large arsenal of weapons and ammunition in St. Louis. State takeovers of local police were also trendy back then, with New York taking the lead in 1857 and cities such as Baltimore, Chicago and Philadelphia following suit.

MORE SUPPORT

In addition to the state labor movement, a representative sample of the thousands of other groups, cities and individuals supporting Proposition A are the Missouri Family Network; St. Louis City, St. Louis County and St. Charles County and Clay County Democratic Central Committees; Jefferson County, Schuyler County, Cass County, and Butler County Republican Committees; Jackson County Committee for County Progress, St. Louis Civic Progress, Kansas City Four Freedoms, St. Louis Regional Business Council; cities of St. Louis, Hillsboro, Fulton, West Plains and so many more.

For more information about Proposition A please go to www.safermissouri.com.

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