Advocate editorial board opinion: Police idea to organize as recognized group is bad

By the Advocate Editorial Board
Sept. 3, 2011 at 4:03 a.m.

Collective bargaining on the surface sounds like a great idea. Meet and confer designations for organized groups lead to collective bargaining. After thinking about it for a bit, such designations suggest that an employee group is not being heard pertaining to job concerns and salaries.

We don't think our police officers are being gagged by city management. We are certain all of their concerns about their jobs and their salaries are being heard and dealt with.

So we disagree with Victoria police officers - more specifically, the Victoria Police Officers Association - petitioning the Victoria City Council to be recognized as a bargaining agent.

The first thing we don't like about the petition - signed by 104 of 116 officers - is that there are only two legal choices to take. Either the city council recognizes the group at its meeting Tuesday, or - if the city council rejects the resolution to recognize the group - the issue goes before voters to decide in the next election. No other options, such as dropping the issue, can take place. We think this sort of forced action is not necessary for a city our size, and it could lead to more serious developments along the way.

The path we think should be taken is to let the people - the voters - in our community decide at the next election, which is scheduled in May. So we urge the council to reject the resolution recognizing the Victoria Police Association as a bargaining agent.

We also have a problem with recognizing only those police officers who signed the petition because a resolution would grant those who signed to represent those who did not sign. This means those who didn't sign cannot opt out or negotiate for themselves. We think this could drive a wedge between police officers who don't see eye-to-eye.

Once more, this move toward collective bargaining becomes divisive with city management, whose job it is to hear the officers and resolve concerns. Communication suffers in this situation.

Further, once we go down the road of meet and confer to collective bargaining, it is super difficult to turn around. We think, in fact, it would be near impossible to turn around if things go wrong.

Certainly, if such a move was approved, more administrative costs would be involved because of routine meetings between city management and a police collective bargaining agent.

Finally, we have a new police chief who happened on this situation. Chief Jeff Craig said he would certainly hear all concerns from the police force. The timing for this move by our police officers is really bad. Officers should give Craig time to address concerns and then re-evaluate the situation.

Again, we urge the city council to reject the resolution recognizing the Victoria Police Association as a bargaining agent, thereby allowing voters to decide the issue in the May election.

This editorial reflects the views of the Victoria Advocate's editorial board.



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