Interview with President of PBA

Sunday, January 18, 1959

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


John J. Cassese, Jim Farrell, Elaine Paul, Ed Stover and Jay Nelson Tuck


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About Campus Press Conference

This is not your run-of-the-mill 'student conference.'

"For the answers to these and other questions..." Each Campus Press Conference (1951-1962) begins with a slew of questions from the student editors of New York City college newspapers, delivered with the controlled seriousness of a teenager on the radio for the first time. Despite their endearing greenness, the student editors pose sharp inquiries to guests from the fields of science, finance, culture, and politics. 

With the country on the cusp of radical cultural and political change, these recordings offer insight to student empowerment movements, flower power, and hippie culture – a time when the youth of America began to realize their tremendous impact and ability to shape their futures. The passion and curiosity of young people is heard through interviews with elected and appointed officials and experts.

Notable guests include Jackie Robinson, Joseph Papp, Averill Harriman, and Senator Jacob Javits.


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