On January 31, 2009, the Louisville Courier-Journal reported that approximately 50 Louisville Metro Police officers decided to turn in their patrol cars so they will not have to pay an increased fee for using them after work hours. Police Chief Robert White announced in December, 2008 that officers who take their vehicles home would have to pay a $100 monthly fee to help cut expenses in the department and help address a $20 million projected city budget shortfall. Officers who use their cars for off-duty employment will have to pay $160 per month.

Previous to the announcement, officers were paying a $30 monthly fee or $60 for off-duty employment use. The fees have been an issue of contention between the police administration and the Fraternal Order of Police, the union that represents officers. The union contends that assessing the fee violates their contract because it was not negotiated as a change. However, police department managers say driving cars home is a privilege and is not part of the officers’ contract.

The policy that assessed the original fee is the subject of a grievance that is presently outstanding. When the fee was increased, the grievance was amended to include the new proposed charges.

The police department estimates that approximately 1,094 police department vehicles are used as take-home cars. With the policy in place and the increased fees, the police department estimates that a savings for the city in the amount of $110,000.00 will be realized on a monthly basis.

While this particular article does not have direct applicability to New Jersey Public Labor Law, it does demonstrate that state, county, and municipal police departments throughout the country are looking to curtail spending and reduce costs due to the economic recession. If cuts have not been made in many departments throughout New Jersey, union leaders can expect to see the implementation of cost savings measures soon. It is vitally important to the rights of organized public safety officers that each one of these “cuts” or cost savings measures be assessed and evaluated to determine if the actions are contractual violations and should therefore be the subject of a group grievance. Keep your eyes and ears open and be sure that the rights of your members are being protected.  Finally, always be sure to fight within the confines of the law to preserve the integrity of your collective bargaining agreement.

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Photo of Frank M. Crivelli Frank M. Crivelli

Frank M. Crivelli’s practice revolves around the representation of over eighty-five (85) labor unions in various capacities, the majority of which bargain for law enforcement entities. He is proud to be called on a daily basis to provide counsel to over 12,000 state…

Frank M. Crivelli’s practice revolves around the representation of over eighty-five (85) labor unions in various capacities, the majority of which bargain for law enforcement entities. He is proud to be called on a daily basis to provide counsel to over 12,000 state, county and local law enforcement officers, firefighters and EMS workers.

Mr. Crivelli specializes his individual practice in collective negotiations.  Over the past twenty (20) years, Mr. Crivelli has negotiated well over one hundred (100) collective bargaining agreements for various state, county, municipal and private organizations and has resolved over thirty-five (35) labor agreements that have reached impasse through compulsory interest arbitration.  Mr. Crivelli routinely litigates matters in front of the New Jersey State Public Employment Relations Commission, the New Jersey Office of Administrative Law, third party neutrals for mediation, grievance and interest arbitration, the Superior Court of New Jersey and the United States District Court for the District of New Jersey.

Mr. Crivelli founded and created the New Jersey Public Safety Officers Law Blog (www.njpublicsafetyofficers.com) approximately fifteen (15) years ago where he and members of his firm routinely publish blog posts regarding legal issues related to the employment of New Jersey Public Safety Officers.  The blog now contains over six hundred (600) articles and is reviewed and relied upon by thousands of public employees.  Mr. Crivelli has also published books and manuals pertaining to New Jersey Public Employee Disability Pension Appeals and the New Jersey Worker’s Compensation System. Currently, he is drafting a publication on how to Prepare and Negotiate a Collective Bargaining Agreement.  He lectures annually at the New Jersey State PBA Collective Bargaining Seminar, the National Association of Police Organization’s Legal Seminar, the New Jersey Public Employment Relations Commission Seminar on Public Employment Labor Law, the United States Marine Corps’ Commander’s Media Training Symposium and to Union Executive Boards and General Membership bodies on various labor related topics.

Prior to entering private practice, Mr. Crivelli joined the United States Marine Corps where he served as a Judge Advocate with the Legal Services Support Section of the First Force Services Support Group in Camp Pendleton, California.  While serving in the Marine Corps, Mr. Crivelli defended and prosecuted hundreds of Special and General Court Martial cases and administrative separation matters.  In addition to his trial duties, Mr. Crivelli was also charged with the responsibility of training various Marine and Naval combat command elements on the interpretation and implementation of the rules of engagement for various military conflicts that were ongoing throughout the world at that time. After leaving active duty, Mr. Crivelli remained in the Marine Corps Reserves where he was promoted to the rank of Major before leaving the service.

For the past fifteen (15) years, Mr. Crivelli has been certified as a Civil Trial Attorney by the Supreme Court for the State of New Jersey, a certification which less than two percent (2%) of the attorneys in New Jersey have achieved.  He is a graduate of Washington College (B.A.), the City University of New York School of Law (J.D.), the United States Naval Justice School, and the Harvard Law School Program on Negotiation.