Union Says Complaint a Possibility

Capitol Police Labor Committee Claims Management Did Not Seek Its Input on New Rules

Posted July 20, 2012 at 5:02pm

If the Capitol Police Labor Committee’s page-by-page review of new policies sought by management fails to weed out some of the rules the union sees as most objectionable, the organization is considering filing an unfair-labor-practices complaint against Capitol Police management.

Some of the less controversial rules could be agreed to immediately, Labor Committee President Jim Konczos said of the review of the 100-page document that will begin today.

But more contentious issues, including a ban on some visible tattoos and changes to how leave is approved, will likely be subject to negotiation. If agreement can’t be reached, one option the union says it is considering is filing a complaint with the Office of Compliance. The Capitol Police Labor Committee argues that its input should have been solicited weeks ago, when management was first preparing to enforce the new regulations. The Capitol Police sought to implement the rules earlier this month before agreeing to postpone enforcement until after union review.

Konczos said he and his colleagues will report back to acting Chief Tom Reynolds at the end of every day this week on which directives pass muster with the rank and file and which they would like to see revised or removed, with a goal of finishing the review by Friday.

However, negotiations will likely continue as union representatives and police officials attempt to reach consensus on the more contentious proposals, particularly those relating to personal grooming.

“While we believe our proposals will be reasonable, there is always a possibility that the department will not agree,” Konczos said. “If the two sides do not agree, there may be an unfair-labor-practice [claim] filed for making unilateral changes in working conditions, while failing to bargain in good faith.”

The claim would be made with the Office of Compliance, which is for most Congressional employees the first step leading to litigation.

Media outlets last week reported discontent in the ranks over the possibility that officers might have to dress a certain way to hide tattoos that had not previously been considered a problem.

Konczos suggested that he is less concerned about backlash over individual policies than he is about how the policies came into existence in the first place.

According to Konczos, the directives were drafted and approved by former Chief Phillip Morse, who stepped down in May. When Reynolds became acting chief, Konczos said, he was given the directives to enforce and was told that the union had signed off. It hadn’t.

“The union contends that Reynolds was misled by … personnel as to whether these policies were previously submitted to the union for review,” he said. “If this proves to be true, the union will request that the Capitol Police Board intervene to determine who was responsible and hold them accountable.”

A senior Capitol Police source confirmed that Morse endorsed the package of directives without fully consulting “the Police Board, senior aides, other deputies, inspectors.”

“There was not much consultation with anybody, certainly not his own staff,” the source told Roll Call.

Capitol Police spokeswoman Lt. Kimberly Schneider did not address these charges or those leveled by Konczos.

“The new USCP policy manual was created … to reinforce uniformity throughout the agency in support of the USCP’s mission and goals,” she said. “These comprehensive policies better describe restrictions and provide more clarity … [and] follow the best practices in law enforcement and are consistent with other agency’s practices.”