Lanier’s role in wage talks for officers is illegal: FOP

Suit says contract that gave authority expired

D.C. Police Chief Cathy L. Lanier’s involvement in compensation decisions for the 3,500 officers of the Metropolitan Police Department (MPD) violates D.C. law and a 2005 mayor’s order that reserved such authority for the mayor and his labor relations director, according to a lawsuit filed Monday by the Fraternal Order of Police (FOP).

Chief Lanier’s five-year contract, approved by the D.C. Council in April 2007, authorizes her involvement in police collective-bargaining activities despite that being prohibited by the mayor’s order and D.C. Code. But her contract expired April 3, the lawsuit states, “thereby removing [her] authority from controlling compensation-related decisions as management of the MPD.”

Starting salaries for MPD officers are commensurate with those in neighboring jurisdictions, but their current collective-bargaining agreement expired at the end of fiscal 2008, and the last raise MPD officers received was in October 2007, according to FOP President Kristopher Baumann.

At the same time, Chief Lanier is negotiating a new contract for herself that could elevate her $253,000-per-year salary - fourth-highest in the nation - despite a recent D.C. law that purports to cap executive salaries. As The Washington Times reported last week, the council will have to deal with that law in approving a new salary increase for the chief.

Chief Lanier’s original annual salary in 2007 was $175,000. It has increased more than 40 percent since then.

“While growing rich and taking credit for actual and perceived reductions in crime, Chief Lanier has only offered rank-and-file officers a contract for [seven] years without a pay increase or cost-of-living adjustment,” Mr. Baumann said in an email. “As a result, the working police have not had a raise, or even an offer of a raise, in five years.”

Chief Lanier’s contract says she has the “right to participate in the collective-bargaining process as management of MPD” and “shall be consulted” on a “collective-bargaining agreement affecting the members of MPD.” But in an email Monday to The Times, Gwendolyn Crump, a spokeswoman for Chief Lanier, said the chief “has never had pay and compensation authority in negotiations.” She said the Office of Labor Relations and Collective Bargaining has that authority.

The FOP’s lawsuit also claims that “Chief Lanier’s interference with the compensation-related decisions of the collective-bargaining agreement process is improperly impeding the parties’ ability to reach a new [agreement], and as such is causing harm” to its members.

Her authority to engage in labor negotiations that affect her officers is rooted in an expired contract, the FOP argues.

Pedro Ribeiro, spokesman for Mayor Vincent C. Gray, disputed that the chief’s contract had expired.

The D.C. Code states that the mayor has authority over personnel functions related to employees of all city departments. In 2005, then-Mayor Anthony A. Williams signed an executive order specifically delegating the authority to approve police collective-bargaining agreements to the director of the Office of Labor Relations and Collective Bargaining.

But in January 2007, then-Mayor Adrian M. Fenty signed an employment contract giving that authority to Chief Lanier. On April 4, 2007, the council approved her five-year pact, which expired on April 3.

Yet Chief Lanier “has been involved in making compensation-related decisions for the MPD during the collective-bargaining process for the proposed contract between the MPD and the [FOP],” the lawsuit states, the authority for which expired along with her contract.

The FOP is asking a D.C. Superior Court judge to declare Chief Lanier in violation of the 2005 mayor’s order and the existing D.C. law and to prevent her from being involved as “management in making compensation-related decisions in the collectivebargaining process.”

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