Post 13 Trivia – McFeeley’s Follies
John Young, Patrolman
January 1, 1974: Abe Beame was sworn in as the 104th Mayor of the City of New York, and he selected Chief Inspector Michael Codd as his police commissioner. Beame faced the worst fiscal crises in the city’s history and spent the bulk of his term attempting to ward off bankruptcy on the backs of the municipal workers.
April 1974: Skyrockets burst above Atlanta Stadium as Hank Aaron hit his 715th home run, and passed Babe Ruth as the greatest slugger in baseball history. A week later, Patty Hearst assisted the Symbionese Liberation Army in a bank holdup in San Francisco, and a Washington crime study found New York City the safest of 13 cities in America.
The PBA under the leadership of Bob McKiernan presented a list of contract demands to the City’s Office of Labor Policy. The 35-point list included salary improvements and better working conditions. The current contract was to expire on June 30, 1974, because the two previous contracts were for 27 months. The city wanted to get away from contracts ending on New Year’s Eve, because of Mike Quill’s transit strike.
Whatever became of Patty Hearst? Well, she was convicted of bank robbery and sentenced to seven years in prison. Jimmy Carter commuted her sentence to time served (1977) and she was pardoned by Bill Clinton.
Hank Aaron retired from baseball in 1976, and was elected to Cooperstown in 1982.
Washington’s safest city would become “Fear City.”
June 1974: Ken McFeeley and his entire 13 man slate were elected to take over the reigns of the PBA, with McFeeley getting 11,502 votes to 9,057 votes for McKiernan. All the borough trustees (7) won reelection. Front & Center (June 1974) had dissatisfaction among patrol cops over one-man radio cars and using policewomen on patrol as the main reason for the changing of the guard.
McFeeley took office on July 9, 1974. In his first PBA Today newsletter (10/24/74) he announced that cops would no longer be suspended indefinitely. The new modified assignment was established to allow cops to once again support their families until their guilt or innocence was proved. There were 149 men suspended and 70% were returned to duty without gun and shield.
Contract talks were one-sided. The city’s ultimatum to avoid layoffs of cops was in two parts. The first part was to give up one million dollars in back payments the city owed our Health & Welfare fund. In addition, new appointees would not be covered by H&W for the first two months on the job. The second part was two days off (per year) of the additional 18 days off under the 24-squad chart. The city was going to change the chart by reducing the number of 96-hour swings from six to four, and only two 88 hour swings. The new chart was permanent, meaning that cops would be working two extra days forever.
McKiernan started negotiations in April, however, the election halted talks. Finally by December, the Board of Collective Bargaining determined that unsettled issues would go to an Impasse Panel. The PBA (McFeeley) submitted four subjects while the city put three items into impasse, as the city had settled with 50 other bargaining units, including Fire and Sanitation (between July 1974 and January 1975). Everyone got the same, as the city sought to preserve that pattern – 8% for fiscal 1974 and 6% for fiscal 1975.
The first general PBA membership was held in Madison Square Garden with almost 4.000 off duty cops filling Felt Forum. The object was to show that cops were united to break parity and resist layoffs. Yes, McFeeley had continued the fight to break parity with the other municipal unions.
January 30, 1975: Originally this was the day for layoffs of municipal workers. Gotbaum (DC 37) and DeLury (USA) lost two months of Health & Welfare back payments and the H&W Fund contributions were increased 16.7% for new employees. DC 37 members suffered minor contractual items: Five summer hours and the city had the right of transfer. Fire lost two personal leave days and the six hour time-off for blood donations.
Note: McFeeley had joined a coalition of other city unions with President Victor Gotbaum (DC 37) acting as spokesperson. When the coalition got a deal that they and their membership agreed to, they quickly closed shop and left, while McFeeley & Vizzini came up with the “Fear City” campaign.
The PBA membership voted 3 to 1 in February 1975, to work the “McFeeley Five Days” to save the 700 rookies. By mid-March the city wanted police officers to work 8 hours & 15 minutes instead of the present 81/2 hours. This was to be accomplished by eliminating the 10 minutes assigned to pre-tour training and five of the then 10 minutes devoted to preparing reports and turning in equipment. Remember those 3-1/2 pound portable radios?
Well, the PBA entered into another impasse situation and the panel made the following recommendations (8/10/76): The Police Department would devise a duty chart with sets of no less that 3 tours, and no more than 5 tours; Swings of 56 hours, with an occasional 80 hour swing by adding a chart day; Police officers would work 8 hour, 15 minute tours and make 253 appearances per year.
March 1975: McFeeley in his PBA Today (3/13/75) thanked the membership for giving him the “yes” vote on working the five days. Two weeks later (3/28/75) the offer was withdrawn. He had stated that a “yes” vote would save 560 rookie jobs, the 24 squad duty chart and the two-man radio car. He even speculated that we might receive a favorable ruling in our parity case. Remember the “Fear City” campaign and their pamphlets?
TO BE CONTINUED