Bob Bartlett and Joe Ferenzi face a decision everyone who wants to fight for the membership eventually must make: What slate to run with.
The two SWAT officers had already proved themselves able fighters for FOP members by winning key lawsuits against the city.
These are the three lawsuits Ferenzi and Bartlett have filed on behalf of their members.
As SWAT members, the city required that officers transport their city-issued gear and weapons to and from work when responding to emergency situations. The city was requiring the officers to do this without compensation even though the responsibility of doing so restricted their movement while off duty.
So they filed a lawsuit about it. When Ferenzi and Bartlett let the current union board know about our “SWAT Suit,” President Dean Angelo and the union's attorney wanted them to file a grievance instead, Bartlett said. But filing a grievance would have nullified their lawsuit, which is still in litigation.
The two men are confident they will prevail.
In a second legal action on behalf of members, the two SWAT officers set their sights on the Fair Labor Standard Act (FLSA) governing wages. They discovered a lesser-known law that says that any retroactive raise on salary must also be paid on overtime worked. It further stated that the retroactive pay cannot be negotiated away.
According to labor law, overtime raises must be paid retroactively on a new contract.
The two men realized the contract negotiated by President Dean Angelo did not include this overtime pay, so they filed a lawsuit, which was settled without any fight.
According to the terms of the settlement, the city ended up paying not only the two percent retro on the overtime during the first year of the contract, but also an added penalty, thereby giving every affected member approximately 165 percent of what they would have received if the original contract negotiated by the city and union had included these payments, as the FSLA requires.
One has to wonder. How did both the city's labor attorneys and FOP President Dean Angelo’s labor attorneys negotiate a contract that defied the law, and defied it in a way that benefited the city?
“We did not feel confident in our union,” Bartlett said. “We do not believe our union would have achieved the same results if we brought the lawsuit to them, rather than us going at it alone. We strongly believe we never would have received the penalties and interest, since they negotiated the retro pay away in the first place. At no time did the union ever inquire about this law suit, which was affecting the membership the union was supposed to be fighting for.”
But that’s not all Bartlett and Ferenzi did. Ferenzi kept researching FSLA. He found a statute requiring bonuses must also include overtime. The city, he discovered, was not doing so on the physical fitness award, which is a bonus.
So once again, they filed a lawsuit. The city admitted the bonus was not being pad. But in the city’s settlement offer, the city only wanted to pay Ferenzi and their attorneys, not fix the problem.
Ferenzi refused, demanding that all officers and detectives get paid.
It was these legal victories that played a pivotal role for both Bartlett and Ferenzi to run for office at the FOP in the upcoming election. In their experience, the two men came to believe that Angelo was more concerned with stifling their lawsuit than fighting to get the back pay for the officers.
“It was obvious that the Angelo administration is only interested in making the city happy,” Bartlett said.
As the campaigning for the election begins, some anonymous critics, quite possibly Angelo supporters, are hurling accusations against the slate Bartlett and Ferenzi are running on, called the Blue Voice. They are saying the Blue Voice slate has too many members from the former Citywide team that ran the union for three terms.
But if, as some critics suggest, the Blue Voice is just a bunch of old Citywide guys, why is the slate taking such aggressive fighters like Bartlett and Ferenzi onto their slate?
The truth is that the Blue Voice is comprised of new and old FOP members, a crucial mix of knowledge, new ideas, and aggressive fighters.
The Angelo team, the team that has little to show for the last three years of running the union, is also laden with former Citywide guys. One of them is Greg Bella, running against Ferenzi.
Compare the two. Ferenzi has shown himself to be a creative fighter for the members. Bella has sat idly by while Angelo has steadily weakened the FOP on every front, including contracts that are not even within the scope of federal labor law.