In the Matter of: City of Bridgeport and Bridgeport Police Union, Local 1159, Council 15, AFSCME, AFL-CIO
To prevail on a claim of illegal, unilateral change, a union may be required to prove that a practice concerns a mandatory subject of bargaining. In response to an increase in homicide, the Bridgeport Police Department's chief of police assigned eight sergeants and patrol officers to participate in a "violent crime reduction initiative." These sergeants and patrol officers received overtime pay when they attended Tuesday night intelligence meetings, to discuss the areas they would work. The union filed a complaint with the Board of Labor Relations, alleging that the City of Bridgeport unilaterally assigned eight police officers to participate in the "violent crime reduction initiative," in violation of the Municipal Employee Relations Act. The union claimed that the eight assignments affected overtime, safety and staffing and resulted in an illegal, unilateral change to a mandatory subject of bargaining. To prevail on a claim of illegal, unilateral change, the union may be required to prove that a practice concerns a mandatory subject of bargaining. The Board of Labor Relations credited the testimony of Deputy Chief Radzimirski that regular patrol officers also are responsible for dealing with violent crime. The Board of Labor Relations rejected the union's claim that assigning eight individuals to work on violent crime reduction was tantamount to imposing a "brand new work schedule," or that the assignment caused a substantial change in work responsibilities. The union also failed to prove that the eight sergeants and patrol officers received greater overtime opportunities than regular patrol officers, as a result of pay that they received in connection with the Tuesday night intelligence meetings. Although Sergeant Seeley testified that the eight sergeants and patrol officers had more contact with dangerous criminals, the union offered no evidence that greater injury resulted. The assignment to work on violent crime reduction constituted an assignment of personnel, as opposed to a mandatory subject of bargaining. The City of Bridgeport did not violate the Municipal Employee Relations Act, and the Board of Labor Relations dismissed the union's complaint. Peter Dagostine represented the City of Bridgeport, and Eric Brown represented the union.