This episode is from the WNYC archives. It may contain language which is no longer politically or socially appropriate.
The editors of college newspapers question a prominent personality in the news. J. Moderator: Jay Nelson Tuck. Guests John J. Cassese, President of the Patrolmen's Benevolent Association. Elaine Paul of the Hunter College Arrow and Jim Farrell and Ed Stover of the Fordham Student Bar Association. Rights of policemen? Other workers freely organize in labor unions. The Patrolmen's Benevolent Association is not a trade union. Seeking establishment of independent grievance machinery but Commissioner Kennedy has refused it. PBA has become center of controversy.
What are the present inadequacies of the police grievance system so that a new grievance machinery would be warranted? Why do believe you should have an appeal beyond his decision? No man is infallible. Do you feel a union would be necessary or is the PBA organization sufficient? Wants no part of a union. Only want a formal grievance procedure. Wouldn't this grievance procedure act similar to a union? Suppose your grievance request is denied, do you think it would make it easier for an outside group to come in and form a union in the police department? Labor Commissioner Felix said we would have a public hearing by summer to decide if executive order number 49 would include the police department; why is it that we haven't had this yet? Do you plan to take this matter to court if you don't get the grievance procedure? Under what law? PBA represents sergeants, lieutenants, captain in the matters of salaries, working conditions,and hours; isn't this a de facto union? Admittedly that PBA represents the patrolmen on a lower level, still aren't you a de facto union? Commissioner Kennedy has executed mass transfers thereby contributing to a breakdown in morale; is this a category of grievance that you would submit? If the commissioner is prohibited to make switches because of a grievance committee, aren't you preventing him from giving New York City an honest police force? Isn't this a judgment for the commissioner? Familiarity breeds potential dishonesty. Don't you feel that no grievance committee should put itself above the commissioner in deciding which is more important - morale or honesty? PBA has used words like "dictator" and "totalitarian" when talking about Commissioner Kennedy. Do you agree? If Commissioner Kennedy makes mass tranfers to avert possible corruption, isn't he making a mass accusation? What rationale does Commissioner Kennedy give for maintaining this system [civilian complaints against patrolmen are kept on file regardless of the veracity]? Have the problems of the widows' pensions and of the overtime pay of the subway striker been resolved? Why do you not advocate the formal recognition of your organization as a union for policemen? Do you feel that the point system contributes to good morale on the part of the policemen? Talk about policemen and tickets.
Audio courtesy of the NYC Municipal Archives WNYC Collection
WNYC archives id: 8603
Municipal archives id: LT8333
This is a machine-generated transcript. Text is unformatted and may contain errors.
As police commissioner Kennedy a dictator do believe McCain didn't delve numbers of the latest poll it will rock solid austerity program to prevent the increase of police with all pensions for the answers to these and other questions listen now to the rest of the station's campus press conference in this transcribed discussion the editors of college newspapers question a prominent personality in the news Jane Olson Tuck noted editor and lecturer is the moderator and to introduce the panel and tonight's guest is Mr Tucker Good evening not many questions Star up more agitation in the public prints these days then a dispute over the rights of policeman other workers freely organize into labor unions but the suggestion that policemen have the right to do the same stars up a storm of controversy for money is however no one is questioning the right of the police to be organized in the Patrolmen's Benevolent Association which is not a trade union now the P.B. A is seeking the establishment of independent grievance machinery for members of the force and police commissioner Kennedy has refused it thus the P.V.A. too has become something of a center of controversy our guest tonight on campus press conferences patrolman John Jay costs us who was elected president of the Patrolmen's Benevolent Association last July he has been a working member of the New York police force for twenty one years and is currently assigned to the Chiefs Clark's office at police headquarters here this evening to question most of us are Eli and Paul of the Hunter College arrow and Jim Farland said Stover both of the Fordham student Bar Association Ed has a first question mystic assess what do you feel are the present inadequacies of the police grievance system so that a new grievance machinery would be warranted and answer the question. I'd say that the way things shape up. A man with a great bunch on a lower level tries to resolve that grievance but in this rare of a patient unit if not it's taken by a borrowed trust base pay be up to a borrowed command that never doesn't resolve there it can go high however they cannot go over and beyond the scope of the police commissioner. In the face that since may have brought this about as well since police commissioner Kennedy is the top rung of the ladder in the police department Why do you feel that you should have an appeal beyond his decision because every other show the employee and every in the department and every department in the city has this procedure prescribed under executive order number forty nine and we believe that we are entitled to the same rights because no man is infallible. A commission of the city and. Of any other department. Or do you feel that a union might be necessary or is the P.P.A. organization sufficient to settle all of the needs of New York City's police. Wants no part of any membership expressed their opinion as such we can amply take care of our own affairs what in the scope and the machinery of the pajamas Benevolent Association that is why we are proceeding at this time for adequate form of grievance procedure because we believe this is one of the things that I shall be needed and I would. Have fallen if that's too if the P.B.S. does. Achieve some kind of grievance procedure wouldn't they be acting quite similar to a union organization No none whatsoever. I remember in one nine hundred fifty want to believe it was a organization trying to unionize a place the bomb and at that time and I caught decision a judge bright tell said that the Potomac Benevolent Association does not come within the scope and the definition of a police union let me ask one question mystic assess suppose your grievance. Request is did not know grievance machinery is set up doesn't that make it easier for an outside group to come in and form a union and the police department. Make the men more receptive to outside unionization because this is something. May I go by the last April and May. Know what I would like to state at this time that I was July I was like that though the office of president that a baby. And we had a hot campaign the only in the spring months around April and May and on our platform the main issue at that time was that we would strive and fight for formalized grievance procedure that is not going to they merely carrying out the promises we had made last spring when we were running for election to watch this Gem Fire Oh well so again last May right here on campus press conference city Labor Commissioner Felix said that by the end of the summer we would have a public hearing to decide whether or not this executive order number forty nine which you've already referred to would include the police department he said we would have it at the end of the summer if every summer has gone by and here it is nine hundred fifty nine and we have the city of New York still haven't had this Weiser Well if you'll recall back in the spring or when Felix made. That announcement I believe around July as you say that the police commissioner in no uncertain times object the family to the mayor. And there was quite a rift between the commissioner of labor and the conventional pollies and it seems that made that mistake can of the one that this is do you think that they should be a public hearing and mediately on this that I should go to morrow if I go to the people for the benefit of the Polish men so that by having a formalized Ramus Bush something they surely need and want that this time. They would make for better policemen more efficient policemen and so doing they would fill a better job for the people of Chile and then we are going to would be a phantom in the head of a police commissioner by having a more efficient force under his command. Your plan you plan to take this matter to court if you don't get the grievance machinery I must confess that under what law would you take it to court what procedure is there while our legal training has told us that. In one nine hundred fifty four an interim water was brought out. Excluding policemen at that time I was subsequently executive on a number forty nine was issued this past July. RATHER And I was March one hundred fifty eight and it failed to explode policeman and our right Cheney says that we have legal grounds they are caught however we were trying to resolve a thing without the court case on an amiable basis sitting down with the mayor and the police commissioner and the labor commissioner which we have done on several occasions. On September sixteenth we sat down and in the mayor's office and city hall and my. Television that we would have a subsequent meeting within a week it told but here we are four months later and that meeting was not a forthcoming still meeting. Mr Coe says the P.B.S. presently represents the sergeants lieutenants captains and other superior officers in matters of salary working conditions on hours now isn't this in effect a de facto Union as charged by Commissioner KENNEDY Well let's clarify the statement. We represent patrolmen actually there as a sizes level of association that takes care of the sergeants needs a lieutenant association that represents the lieutenants we have a captains and dominant association that represents captains and above although these members of these rank still belongs at a P B A You have to remember that when we come on that a force we saw in office but trauma and we signed him up as P.V.A. members about trauma when they are promoted the rank of sergeant they may hold Not that I membership as patrolmen while they may decide not to if they don't they have no idea of boys and I want the thought in the P.V.A. they cannot attend meetings and they cannot vote but they can't be members because we don't have any challenge plan which up until now up until February one thousand nine hundred fifty nine is four hundred dollars and it will be one thousand dollars. I'm sorry it has a follow up I think well sir in mid late at the P.B. A represents the patrolmen on the lower level still aren't you in effect a de facto union that is you have machinery for grievances among yourselves you investigate working hours and conditions police commissioner Kennedy has charged us. If I may bring it back that I'd probably tell decision in one thousand nine hundred fifty one P.V.A. has been doing those things since eighty ninety four and after much. Expense of study and his decision Judge upright held said that P.B. A is not a union and the P.V.A. have been doing this now one thing since eighty ninety four up until one nine hundred fifty one not withstanding that procedure the judge says that we did not qualify as a unit. Jim I'm sorry to delay just last Sunday sir you said didn't close out or at any cost published by The New York Post on yourself last Sunday you were quoted as saying that you have as one of your grievances the fact that Commissioner Kennedy has executed mass transfers or precincts thereby contributing to a breakdown in morale of the rank and file patrolling the use and at the center as a possible grievance to the grievance machinery if one were set up for this be a category of grievance that you would commit. Mass transfers now you have to give me a chance to qualify this statement of mass transfers because I'm the service commissioner Kennedy and anyone else can very well grasp all the my statements and say that I am encroaching on his right so it has to be thought out now the rule says that the police commissioner can make transfers at will at his discretion it's his prerogative all well and good we agree with that and we go by this but when the police commissioner as he did about a year I shall go and make about that thousand transfers which included follows from all over the shit i washed out of all over the five boroughs this makes both for morale you've got to realise that there is a god think Bill a man being on a study published. Well certainly commission that Kennedy defended this as a discretionary act necessary to cope with what he describes as a return to the Tenderloin he attacked the rank and file for getting cells and million with the people on the beat that they could make graft contact hence the first the precinct captains which then the sergeants which And then the mass transfer is now if he is prohibited from making the switches because of a grievance committee procedure aren't you thereby preventing him from carrying out his job of giving New York City an honest police force none with none whatsoever as I said before you have to let me finish my statement. But I'll answer yours now Commissioner Kelly has said that if there's ever a groper an area where there is corruption and he knows about it he will transfer self-love and so on all well and good but when he made the one thousand transposed such was not the case it was just a case of putting a man around drop a fire borrows from a certain area throughout the five boroughs now we protest that. By about seven eight months ago to this practice at one time we will recall when typically was Bigler rise and at the same time. They were having trouble in the embassies what the hungry and pickets while at that time commissioned a candidate transferred one hundred ten men from outlining areas that are five boroughs into this trouble spot along the sixty seventh Street we realize we have enough brains and enough common sense that realize that this has to be done and it must be done and we don't question actions of such as such because he is the administrator of the Navy thinks that they need this group of men of this. Country or men in this area all well and good we go with that but when you transform men for the sake of transforming them then we can go along with that as I said before Allow me to follow this point because it makes for bad morale I know followers out there that have been on a bait for eight years doing a wonderful job. And forging the law protecting life and property arresting but writers knowing people on their post taking care of juvenile delinquency. Know who the wise followers and Hoda god guys are and so forth and so on he gets that there was good job now when you take a man with eight years in prison and you take him away to an outlying area some other place for no reason whatsoever the tendency is that as a fellow coming comes and goes nobody looks back and says I galley I was very good and I did a job on where I stand inwardly self-satisfaction and he says and eventually the road reward I get for no reason at all of me thrown out there like this then the tendency is and he may feel right he's going to take it easy let's put it that way we don't condone the action but it's human nature you're the only one to follow here that's made of flesh and blood Same with Joe and he has temperaments and he has families too and I say that indirectly that this shit isn't really the city and loses the efficiency of the man because he is not performing up to high standards because of his low morale at that time isn't this a judgment for the commission of the service since it although familiarity may breed good morale according to the commission of the illegality breeds potential dishonesty and you have two values namely breaking down a man's morale indiscriminately without discrimination since you're doing it by mass transfers you're not indicting a particular person transferring an entire group out to stop a problem that the commissioner feels in his own discretion is more important and don't you feel then that no grievance committee should put itself above the commissioner and exercising the discretionary powers of deciding which is more important or out versus honesty which in turn will build up morale. Well now Jim as I said before at the convention really has profound or even thinks that the same thing is going on a certain area need transfers this fall is all well and good gracious but I've got a problem we all are great but I don't go with the fact he can transfer all over the city anytime anywhere this makes for bad morale and a citizen suffers in a city and. In talking about things like this before most because that's the P.B.S. used words like dictator and totalitarian about Commission a candidate do you think he's arbitrary and dictatorial Well let me give you one instance at this time away as my grievance procedure this was our main issue and we asked for and all we asked for is to have a public hearing to be able to shut down with the police commissioner the labor commissioner and the mayor and when this is all over at this meeting if we don't sit down unfortunately we don't have the opportunity beyond September to shake and if we were shown where we were wrong all well and good then at least we've had a hearing for a man they can. Say I'll not even discuss it under any conditions well you draw your own closure values and dictatorial I don't know what is. Just out of cur