City Government

Inside Cop Union, City Negotiations

Labor negotiations between the City of Boise and its police department have bogged down over some health benefit issues, but a letter sent to the individual cops has caused allegations of union busting attempts by the City at worst and bad faith bargaining at best.

It all stems from a Friday the 13th eight page letter signed by the mayor and council which was sent to the home address of all the cops. The carefully worded communication is under the guise of providing the rank and file membership with “information” regarding the financial basis and philosophy of offers made during negotiations.

The implication in the city letter is that union leadership hasn’t presented the latest offers to membership. Based on contact the GUARDIAN has with the cops it would appear the move on the part of the city may have backfired. We are told the union solidarity is even more intense following the letter.

Police Union President Kip Wills offered this statement to the GUARDIAN, “we requested to be put on the city council agenda in the coming weeks so that we could talk to the council members about the issues that are sticking the contract. After much backdoor discussion we have been told by Mayors staff that we will not be on the public council agenda. I personally have a very strong opinion regarding open
government. By conducting meetings behind closed doors or discussing non-
discipline personnel issues only in private I feel that the council and staff
continue to show their true colors to the citizens of Boise. These same
citizens put them in office.”

So both sides can get an idea of how the public feels about the benefits afforded to the cops as well as the city’s position, The GUARDIAN is taking the unusual–but open– step of providing a copy of the actual letter. You pay the bills, you deserve a look.

BOISE CITY LETTER TO COPS pdf format. Download file

Comments & Discussion

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  1. Good letter. Makes those phones messages left on the hotline appear to be an over reaction. I’m sure everything will work out in the end as the city officials and the fire fighters were able to find common ground. Since Tibbs also signed the letter it won’t be an issue in the mayoral race.

  2. Osprey, I don’t think you’ve grasped what has happened here. It is inappropriate and unethical to back door representatives by going around them in an attempt to get something passed. It is illegal in most states but unfortunately in Idaho, there are few laws that protect unions from this sort of behavior. I have been affiliated with unions for more than twenty years and I would take this as an insult.

    For the mayor and council to try to pass this off as anything more than union busting is ridiculous. They should be ashamed of themselves. As far as Tibbs, I would have expected more from him, this is disappointing to say the least. This certainly demonstrates what city hall cares about and it is not the employee, it’s the price. Shame on them.

  3. Why can’t the city use some of the $10 million dollars it saved up last year to settle things for the cops? Or is that money ear marked for another library? aka; homeless shelter.

  4. Osprey,
    If you think cops and firemen think alike, think again. Cops don’t run away from the fight. Remember, the firemen took vacation days to personally run Bieter’s campaign. Don’t you think Bieter would be a little more likely to dip into his library fund to help the firemen after that? As far as Tibbs goes, since he DID sign the letter, I can imagine it WILL be an issue as far as the mayoral race goes. Tibbs is playing politics, and I can’t imagine that sits well with the Boise cops. Boise is a great place to live right now, and that is due greatly in part to law enforcement. Bieter doesn’t care about the future. He only seems to care about right now.

  5. Forget the union. The city is right to try and communicate directly with ITS EMPLOYEES. Pay the officers a good wage – pay them fairly – but don’t bow to the union and waste our tax dollars.

  6. This is where it gets weird.

    The vast majority of the readers of this blog have never experienced collective bargaining. Usually, the first reaction is one of jealousy or envy.

    That is exactly what is wrong with this situation. Hardly anyone knows what it is like to work in an environment where the employer can’t just walk all over the employees and change the rules, wages or benefits at the drop of a hat.

    Team Dave and his cabal of anti-employee council members have committed an old trick…try to make the Union negotiating team look bad in the eyes of the membership. It clearly isn’t working in this case and if Team Dave had actually spoken with anyone with labor experience they would have been told to avoid this childish tactic.

    As far as Tibbs is concerned, I would hope the rank and file members of the Police Union see right through his thin veneer and avoid him like the virus he will certainly turn out to be.

    This town still has a lot of growing up to do and Team Dave could lead the way if he chose to do so.

  7. AB you must be some type of manager obviously. The reason there are unions is because employees DON’T pay their employees a fair wage. It’s not about bowing to the union, it’s about being fairly represented. If employers treated their employees well, there wouldn’t be a need for unions. But amazingly enough, there are employers that just don’t do that and refuse to put a value on human resources….. think Walmart and maybe Albertsons.

  8. Right-o Chester!

    The plethora of nasty employers around these parts is huge.

    Serious question for everyone:

    Why is it here in Idaho that the employer is deified and the employee is vilified??

  9. I have to say this is something that bothers me a LOT. Most people do not even know the history of Unions and organizing that comes back to early days of Idaho.

    One of the problems with our “right to work state” in my opinion is that people honestly do not even understand how a union works.

    A number of years ago I helped organize a march in Pocatello of Union folks and it was the first there in years and years. People were not even sure they COULD march for what they believed.

    I really hope that this serves as both a backfire on the underhanded trick and also as a place for people to learn more about union’s, negotiations etc.


  10. Anti-Union people often live in this rosey, fairytale world where all employees are treated fairly and payed a fair wage because its the right thing to do. The reality is often much different. Most companies offer inadequate benefits and can fire or layoff employees on a whim. Why not allow the workers an equal playing field? You can point to abuses in the past by Unions, but what about the abuses perpetrated by the business industry toward employees?

  11. AB wants to live in a town where the police officers are hired at Walmart. Pay Walmart wages, get Walmart service.

  12. I’m not sure that the folks on our council wouln’t object to outsourcing our city police force to an outfit like Blackwater. They could have everything they want, no oversight, no unions, martial law whenever they wanted, and gullible Idaho voters, all 15% of the population would belive it was a good deal.

  13. Dog,
    I must concede that if one follows the Micron business model, it is indeed economical and for the benefit of Boise to invest and create jobs in Asia. Perhaps Team Dave will take a lesson from Team Appleton as you suggest.

  14. Given the City’s position to ‘inform’ police personnel of the negociations in process with their union representatives, I see no reason why the Police Union should not be allowed to speak in front of the publicly held City Council meeting to the Boise Citizens. The City’s going around the negociators backs was wrong. After reading the City’s letter, I wonder where I can get $1,200 in work-related wardrobe allowance. Also how can I get paid for not having to answer court appearance subpoenas?

  15. Actually, the letter seems fairly harmless and rather blah, blah, blah.
    (The raises listed in the charts, though, are a helluva lot bigger than any raise I ever got in a nearly 40-year job!)

    Seems to me the main point here is whether the sending of the letter to the employees (cops) was wrong and an attempt to go around the union.
    Was it? I really don’t know all the laws and rules that would apply here.

    Maybe the city should have just told the cops, Hey, we’d like to pay you a lot more and give you a much better deal on the health insurance, but we can’t because we just don’t have the money. And if you want ot know why we don’t have more money, take a look at all The Boise Guardian’s recent stories on how CCDC gets money that should go to the city and county, and the one about how much some of the CCDC officals are paid. Any other questions?

    (P.S.: I’ve been on both union and non-union jobs, and one where our department wasn’t union but gained some benefits as a spin-off from contracts worked out with the departments that were union. I also was in one where the union bosses treated the workers a helluva lot worse than the employer bosses did … I and another worker even physically threw a union rat out of our work area one time.

    I’ve also been involved in a unionizing attempt for which the employer tried to get rid of me (it didn’t work). So I’ve see many sides of the pro-anti-union action, but I’ve never see a situation quite like this one.

  16. If you really think the officers in Boise don’t make enough money, look into it! Find out the real numbers, its pretty amazing how much money they make, now include all the bennies, wow. They are in no way being abused by the city, by no stretch of the imagination. Find a new complaint, that one does not hold water.

  17. I propose the Honorable Disbanding of the BPD, and contracting of the ADA County Sheriff’s Department for police services.

    1. The BPD is one of the few modern police departments in America, and the only police department in the Treasure Valley that does NOT utilize dashboard cameras. Good cops welcome them. Bad cops don’t. Do the math! 😉

    2. In Idaho, the County Sheriff is the supreme law enforcement of the land.

    3. The Sheriff is an Elected Official, directly answerable to the people.

  18. “The Sheriff is an Elected Official, directly answerable to the people.” which make him………. a politician! How’s that been working out for us so far? That’s all we need, another arrogant politician with a small army. Great combination.

  19. Murphy, I just heard the flushing sound of your mayoral run go down the drain.

  20. As the union president for BPD, I will not get into debating a contract on this blog, but I will answer a very uniformed Murphy for Mayor.

    As far as video cameras are concerned, my assigned patrol vehicle IS equipped with one and I have pushed for the fleet to be equipped with them. The number of cars so equipped has continued to dwindle because city hall and/or command staff fails to see the need and does not prioritize them in the budget because of cost. I have had one since I was a rookie state trooper in the mid 1990’s and would hate to work without one. Video cameras save the officer from unfounded and time consuming complaints, which is to my members (and the publics)advantage, so I can only suppose you are uninformed on this issue.

    I thank those of you who understand what kind of underhanded move this was by the city leaders to try and negotiate directly with union members rather than elected union leaders. We appreciate your continued support.

  21. Mr. Murphy, Disbanding the BPD will not be a very popular position for your campaign. And I don’t think a dashboard camera is the measure of a good police force.

    As for the city’s letter, bravo for creating another group of citizens with an ax to grind. The BPD and families, Save the Commandments coalition, and forced annexation citizens will all be voting against the current regime.

  22. 1. I often wondered why the Sheriff is elected. I think it’s a throwback to the last century. Seems like it’s a skilled managerial position just like Chief of Police. Same theory applies to other County offices (assessor,auditor, and perhaps prosecutor).

    2. I am not going to advocate disbanding the BPD. However, the Sheriff does contract services to Eagle and Kuna. And, City residents are paying twice for law enforcement.. once for the BPD and once for the Sheriff (to whom they have no access in case of a crime in the City). They pay the same as County residents outside City limits who get full-service protection from the ACS.

    EDITOR NOTE–Eric, your thoughts are right on, especially about city paying twice.

  23. Murphy is definately very uninformed. Boise has some vehicles with the cameras, but not all. I don’t believe the majority of Ada County vehicles have cameras, and Garden City doesn’t use any. Those are all “Treasure Valley” Law Enforcement Agencies. I notice you are for the legalization of Marijuana, and seem to be very against the BPD. Interesting.

    On the other topic of paying twice for Law Enforcement: You can actually think about it as more like three times – what about the Idaho State Police? One good point on this topic is that Ada County, nor the Idaho State Police typically answer calls or patrol the Boise area. ISP stays mainly on the highways, and Ada County answers calls in the unincorporated areas of the county.

    The Ada County area would definately benefit from a “Metro” concept towards police, fire, and ambulance. This would get rid of the jurisdiction problems that Ada County, Boise City, Garden City, and Meridian all face – especially as these areas continue to grow. The problem here would be the leadership at these departments, who is going to volunteer their job?

  24. I see this letter as an attempt by the Mayor to circumvent the Police Union representation . The Mayor is actually just showing his true colors. He has no respect for the legal representative of the BPD or the BPD himself. He wants to control the whole show. He has been doing the same thing to the people of boise for years. He refuses to provide them with the basic services the citizens needs ( Real Bus service, a de-tox center, more city services for low-income individuals.) Meanwhile he has helped ensure that a bureaucracy that is doing the job he and council were elected to do is rolling in tax payer money! P. Kushlan is making more money than most elected officials as CCDC fattens itself off of projects like the massive ” hole in the ground” at Main and 8’th!

  25. L.J. said, “ISP stays mainly on the highway ….”

    Yeah, most of the time — but the ISP officers do slip off the highways once in a while to sit around watching bikini dancers. And sometimes they get real busy worrying about folks who sip wine while looking at art, watching a movie or sitting in a sidewalk cafe.

    Or were all those dancers and wine drinkers really out on the highways?

  26. As a former City employee. I am tired of hearing how the Police and Fire Departmetns get different and seperate deals from the rest of the City staff. Several years ago, when all the general staff, got no salary increase, the police and fire did.

    The reason: the unions and the very real fact that a City must have a balanced budget. Whoever said a business approach to governmental spending is inappropriate, apparently liked to be highly taxed.

    I applaud the City’s efforts to control their costs while also giving not only decent, but best in the state wages to their officers while also giving an unbelieveable health care package. Did anybody look at the details of what the officers have to pay. I pay at least 10 times that and know of no one else that has even close to this good of a package for the price paid by employees.

  27. If I may…
    Deprioritization is NOT legalization, nor is it decriminalization. Regardless, the very real enemy that is meth should be a much larger blip on our screen.

    My numbers may be off, but are not wrong.
    And I refer you to a recent Channel 7 piece regarding dash-cam use by area law enforcement.
    It saddens me deeply to see the disdain some have for wanting to exert supreme control over those who hold such tremendous sway in our lives.

    Yes, you are absolutely correct. “Politicians with small armies” is a frightening thought. Unfortunately, we already have politicians with small armies! Armed, and otherwise. Ours here in Boise are no longer answerable to the people. And look where that’s gotten us so far.
    But that’s beside the point. The central theme to my candidacy is the highest degree of professionalism and accountability in city government, beginning with a shift to the City Administrator style of government.
    After that… Enthusiastic plagiarism!

    The Best Boise possible being the goal, I stand ready to eat crow when shown a better way to resolve any issue or tackle any challenge. Some of my proposals are very merit worthy, where others are not.

    Just as some of the commentary on these pages is full of merit…
    As for my personal feelings regarding law enforcement and the BPD?
    I grew up with great respect for all members of law enforcement, and even learned how to box in the NYPD -PAL as a kid. I have had the privilege and good fortune to have worked alongside law enforcement both as a Commercial Diver and Medic, and have met a number of very cool cops across America, around the world, and right here in Boise.

    And without a doubt, the BPD is home to a great number of dedicated, honorable, even heroic Peace Officers. It is my contention that as a bureaucracy, as an institution, it is adrift and arrogant.
    Commentary on these pages notwithstanding, I find that I am by no means alone in this sentiment. Both among my fellow citizens, and even a good number of the BPD’s contemporaries.
    Thank you.

  28. The officers need a large pay raise. How many jobs do you know that require a bullet proof vest and a gun. Do you think someone at Micron will risk their live to save you? Well police officers are required to this as part of their job. Every day they deal with the scum of the earth just to keep the public safe. Also, in-car camera’s only work if you are standing infornt of the car (IE- on a traffic stop). 90% of the officers job is away from the car, that is why they have belt recorders.

  29. Here it is Wednesday and both the Daily Paper and Channel 7 are chasing a five day old GUARDIAN story about the police union and the city council letter. The G man is the only one to publish the letter as well as 29 reader comments on the topic. Where o where is the mainstream media? G man, you are also the only one to give us three sides of the community college issue and public debate.

  30. Fred Notingham
    Apr 30, 2007, 10:09 am

    Mr. Murphy: PULLEEZE go back to California from where you recently came. You are neither entertaining nor informed.

  31. My Dearest Mr. Nottingham: “…recently came.”? I settled here 13 years ago in ’94, after having put in 3+ prior Fire Seasons in this neck of the woods. Once again, I may indeed have some minutiae incorrect, but I am very comfortable with my level of information (having been garnered from multiple reporting/official outlets and first-hand accounts). As for entertaining… You’re probably correct. Though I do d a mean Frank Sinatra in the shower.

  32. Murphy, you should take a ride along with the Boise Police to see what it is all about. You are so mis-informed. Everything is about money. The Boise Police Crime lab is a joke, why, because the city does not want to spend the money.

    You talk about dash camera’s. The city does not want to spend the money. Lets talk about proactive policing…. The city does not want to spend the money. There is no excuse for the way things are going in this city. Our homicides for the year just hit 7 I do believe. The year is not even half over! We are sliding backwards when it comes to proactive policing and have become a political entity that is not forward looking at all.

    The citizens of Boise deserve the best when it comes to their police department, however, what team Dave says and what they actually do are two different things. They are shortchanging you!

  33. Thank you Jim for your excellent suggestion and insight. I will contact the BPD about that ride-along.

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