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Sunday, January 23, 2011 11:04 PM

Camden NJ Police Union Rejects Offer to Save 100 Police Officer Jobs by 300-1 Vote; Camden a Living Hell; Mayor Accuses Union of Fear-Mongering

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The Fraternal Order of Police in Camden New Jersey proved without a shadow of a doubt, public union willingness to toss fellow officers to the dogs.

In a 300-1 vote, the union rejected an offer that that would have saved 100 jobs. That offer called for three days a month of unpaid furloughs for patrol officers for six months, then one furlough day in each of the following 12 months.

Please consider Camden police union rejects concession deal that could bring back 100 laid-off officers

Two efforts to reverse some of the stunning police layoffs in one of America's most dangerous cities failed today.

A judge ruled that he won't force Camden to bring back 167 police officers who were laid off earlier in the week. Later, a union for most of the officers rejected a deal containing concessions, which would have put the majority of them back to work.

The layoffs reduced the size of the police force by nearly half in one of the nation's most impoverished and crime-ridden cities. Some civilian employees such as dispatchers also were laid off, along with about one-third of the city's firefighters.

Altogether, more than 15 percent of Camden's municipal workers, including 68 firefighters and about 100 civilians, were laid off as the city tries to fill a huge budget gap brought on by rising costs, decreased tax revenues and diminished aid from the state.

In an evening vote, the city chapter of the Fraternal Order of Police rejected a deal that would have reinstated officers in exchange for giving them unpaid furlough days.

F.O.P. Local 1 President John Williamson said the vote was 300-1 against the measure.

Mayor Dana Redd and Williamson both said about 100 officers could have been brought back under the deal. Williamson said the agreement called for three days a month of unpaid furloughs for patrol officers for six months, then one furlough day in each of the following 12 months.
Cannibalization at its Finest

That vote is one of the finest displays of union cannibalization (willingness to sacrifice junior officers for the sake of senior members) that you will ever see.

The police officers do not give a damn about their fellow officers or the city itself. All that matters is the senior members "get what they have coming to them".

Layoffs of Unprecedented Proportion Make for "Living Hell"

Please consider Camden struggles with lack of manpower due to police, firefighter layoffs
If you get into a car accident in Camden, the city’s chief of police has this advice: Don’t bother calling the cops unless there are injuries or blocked traffic. Likewise, don’t call about vandalism. Or minor thefts.

With the city’s police force cut almost in half by layoffs, Chief Scott Thomson said his department no longer has the manpower to respond to such calls. Not in Camden, which has struggled with graver problems like homicide, gun violence and drug dealing.

Other police agencies around the state have cut back, but nowhere have cuts been as deep as in Camden.

"I’ve never heard of a layoff of this proportion," said Rutgers Police Institute Executive Director Wayne Fisher.

Mayor Dana Redd and the police union held a last-ditch meeting Monday night but failed to reach an agreement.

"Instead of protecting and serving the city, the residents of Camden, they’re choosing to protect their high salaries," Redd said. She said union concessions could still bring back 100 officers, but didn’t provide details.

Union officials said they were open to wage freezes and furlough days.

"To say the union isn’t bringing anything to the table is just not right," said Ed Brannigan, president of the state union. "But there’s only so much you can give. How much blood do you have?"

Advertisements run by the police union say Camden may become a "living hell." One flier shows a robber pointing a handgun at a cowering store clerk under the title "Welcome to Camden."
Blood? What Blood?

The police union's preposterous offer was to freeze wages. Next the union whines "How much blood do you have?" as if the union was offering anything of substance in a wage freeze proposal.

Assuming the officers work 20 days a month, the city was asking for a 15% pay cut for 6 months and a 5% pay cut for the following year. Does that constitute blood? I think not. However, letting 100 officers go is certainly blood on the union's hands.

The firefighters union "negotiation" went even worse. They demanded small wage increases.

Both unions had the gall to run fear-mongering campaigns. Of course fear-mongering is standard public union operating procedure. The sad irony is that money to fear-monger comes straight from the taxpayers.

Mayor Accuses Police and Fire Unions of Fear-Mongering

Judge Declines to Intervene

Fortunately a New Jersey judge declined to intervene.
A New Jersey judge won't force Camden to bring back 167 police officers who were laid off Monday and Tuesday. The layoffs reduced the size of the police force by nearly half in a city that regularly ranks as one of the nation's most dangerous.

Unions for both rank-and-file officers and superiors argued the state Civil Service Commission did not take the right steps when it approved the layoffs. They also claimed the city laid off more officers than it originally planned.

Superior Court Judge Francis Orlando today said the proper place for the complaints is with the Civil Service Commission or an appeals court — not his court.
Camden is Bankrupt

On the surface, it is hard to understand the city's tactics here. Camden should have outsourced the entire police operation to the county sheriffs' association. I have not seen an instance yet where that action would not have saved money.

The real problem however, is Camden is bankrupt. It should declare bankruptcy. In bankruptcy court the union could then see what their salary and pension contract are worth.

Beneath the surface, the most likely explanation is the mayor might have to relinquish control of the city.

Governor Chris Christie should ask for a law to allow bankruptcy be imposed on a city, whether the city likes it or not. As with Detroit, only bankruptcy can save what remains of Camden, and Camden is clearly bankrupt.

Mike "Mish" Shedlock
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