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Below article from October 7, 2005 edition of The Salem News.
www.salemnews.com

Thanks to those masscops members that stopped by to offer their support.

DPBA website: www.danverspolice.org

Police picket townwide open house

By Chris Cassidy Staff writer

DANVERS - About 35 police union members and supporters picketed a townwide open house last night, carrying cardboard Wanted posters with a photo of the town manager.

We figured it was time to give people a message that the police union is unhappy, said union president Dana Mike Hagan. There will be others. This is just the start.

Members of the police union have been without a contract since July 1, 2003.

The annual open house typically showcases the friendlier side of town government: Firefighters let children climb aboard the ladder trucks, librarians show kids how to create bookmarks and recreation department volunteers hand out free T-shirts.

Last night, police carried signs accusing Town Manager Wayne Marquis of being unfair to police and posted a banner on a car reading, Wayne, shame on you. Members who protect your community ask you to negotiate fairly.

Marquis refrained from criticizing the picketers yesterday.

Police are on their own time, expressing themselves as they see fit, he said.

Both sides met with a three-member arbitration panel for about five hours on Sept. 22 but did not reach a resolution. According to Hagan, the big sticking point is wages. The union is seeking a 3 percent raise for fiscal 2004, while the town has offered 1.5 percent, he said. Meanwhile, police have watched firefighters receive a 3 percent raise for the same year, Hagan said.

It's not that they don't have the ability to pay, he said. They just don't want to.

In the 26 months without a contract, the 44 union members have not received a raise, though they would likely receive any increase as a lump sum once a new contract is signed.

Our taxes keep going up just like everybody else's, Patrolman William Bradstreet said.

Police picketed in front of Town Hall within view of dozens of children and parents as they stepped on and off trolleys transporting them to other open house stops.

Many said the picketing didn't bother them one way or the other.

They're not really interfering in any way, said Andrea Gerakaris. They're just trying to get their message out.

I didn't even know they didn't have a contract, resident Beth Glidden said.

One man criticized union members for picketing at an event that draws mostly families and young children.

It's in bad taste, said Carson Degan, a 47-year-old Danvers resident. It's not the right time and place to do this.

The road to a new contract has been long and contentious.

Police have picketed outside buildings and at public events, including last year's open house, accusing Marquis of unfair dealings. The union also voted no confidence in former police Chief Stuart Chase during his final days in office last year.

The town sued the union last year, accusing officers of failing to write traffic tickets in an effort to drive down town revenue and gain leverage in the contract negotiations. The town asked a state commission to order police to pay back more than $173,000 in lost ticket revenue, but the union prevailed after two days of hearings last year.

Meanwhile, the contract dispute entered mediation in October 2004. The process has so far failed to produce an agreement.

In July, the state appointed a three-member arbitration panel to hear both sides' arguments, a process that began last month. The next arbitration hearing is scheduled for Dec. 2.

I'm hopeful it will be completed that day, Town Manager Wayne Marquis said earlier this week. Whether it will or not, I can't say. We've settled with other union and nonunion employees, and we'd like to solve our differences with the police union.

Hagan said the fate of the dispute lies with Marquis.

It could be settled tomorrow, Hagan said, if the town manager wanted to do so.

POLICE PAY

Current police salaries, effective June 30, 2002:

Rank Hourly Annual

Patrol, bottom step $17.34 $36,061

Patrol, top step $21.43 $44,564

Sergeant, bottom step $23.13 $48,100

Sergeant, top step $25.28 $52,585

Lieutenant, bottom step $27.29 $56,758

Lieutenant, top step $29.83 $62,050

DISPUTE AT A GLANCE

The background

The police union's contract expired on June 30, 2003. They have been working without a contract ever since.

What's new

About 35 union members and supporters picketed a townwide open house last night, carrying posters and holding banners criticizing Town Manager Wayne Marquis.

What's next

Both sides will sit down before a three-member arbitration panel for the continuation of a hearing on Dec. 2.
 

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The DPBA has a long road ahead. Hopefully it will soon be settled and you guys can get your contract. Negotiate Fairly Wayne!!!!!!!!!:up_yours:

Good luck and keep the faith. :vcop:
 
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