As you know, Mayor Bartlett resoundingly won re-election yesterday. I have heard many members who are concerned about retaliation, layoffs, and hard fights over the next three years of his new term (it’s a 3-year term this time to align city elections). I would like to address your concerns.
Layoffs: Mayor Bartlett and the City Council Chairperson, G.T. Bynum, have both said publicly that there will be no public safety layoffs. Mayor Bartlett has said on several occasions that he would use the operating reserve before he laid off any police or fire employees. There is a lot of money in that reserve now. Councilor Bynum said layoffs for police and fire will not be on the table as far as he is concerned.
Those of you who are either in fear of being laid off or are spreading fear about layoffs can rest easy. There are many other ways the City leadership can adjust the budget for the current projected shortfall other than layoffs and they have promised the citizens that they will do so.
Retaliation by Mayor Bartlett: I have met with Mayor Bartlett several times and have had even more phone conversations with him. In fact, I called him last night to congratulate him and to tell him we look forward to a continued working relationship for the betterment of the city. I believe the Mayor is a man of his word and he puts public safety as one of his top priorities. I do not believe he will “retaliate” or do harm to police officers for political reasons. He is not that type of person. We may differ on some of views on labor issues such as our pension, the contract, and binding arbitration, but on supporting the police department, its officers, and keeping our citizens safe, we all want what is best in all of those areas.
As far as negotiations this year are concerned, long before any endorsement, the mayor’s staff did not include SPIs (step increases) as part of the budget. That decision was made this past spring and summer. He never intended to give those of you that have earned SPIs those steps. We have had no further meetings since we were told steps was not on the table but we are technically still open to negotiate and bargain in good faith at any time. So, he can’t really be any tougher in negotiations than he already has been even before he knew who we would or would not endorse.
If you believe as some have said that we will have to “fight” for everything now that he won. I would argue that we have had to fight for everything since he has been mayor including wrongful layoffs when we offered concessions amounting to all the money his staff said they needed to prevent those layoffs. They said they were not interested. It was across the board wage cuts or layoffs...nothing else. That is how we started with Mayor Bartlett and things really have not improved since. Again, now we don’t even get steps which have been earned by our lowest paid officers and supervisors. Layoffs are not going to happen and we already are getting nothing except an offer of a 1% stipend in negotiations. We will be fine as far as "retaliation" goes.
If there is some other plan (according to the rumor mill) regarding bringing in the Sheriff's Department to take over law enforcement or a metro police department, or a new public safety commissioner/coordinator, those agenda items would have happened regardless of what the FOP did in this election.
What I can promise you is that your FOP leadership and I will continue to work with the administration and fight for you when we need to do so. Like I said, if there is fighting to be done, we are the ones that will do it. We accept responsibility for all that has happened and are the ones who are dealing with the consequences. We will deal with these issues so you don’t have to. If you decide you want different leaders representing you, elections are coming up soon and I will discuss those next.
Upcoming FOP Elections
Nominations for Tulsa FOP elected positions will be accepted at our next Lodge meeting on November 20th. The meeting will begin at 1900 hours. For all positions except the Negotiations Committee and FOP Health Trust Board, one must have attended at least six lodge meetings within the year prior to the election which will be held the first week of December to be elected. All elected office terms shall be one-year terms unless otherwise indicated. The election will be conducted online via our website, tulsafop93.org.
The following offices will be up for election:
1st Vice-President Conductor
2nd Vice-President Inner Guard
Board of Directors (2 Positions, 3-Year Term)
Negotiations Committee (3 Positions, 3-Year Term)
Trustees (1 Position, 3-Year Term)
FOP Health Trust Board (3 Candidates submitted by the Trust Board to the FOP, 3-Year Term. This will be a yes or no vote for each Trustee)
I strongly encourage any member that is eligible and wishes to run for office to step up and offer your time and service. I believe that the more members we have involved at all levels of FOP business the better we will be as an organization. I hope we have a race for each position so that healthy debate can occur. An eligibility list is attached to this email. Of course you should add any regular meetings attended since the date of the list which is printed on it.
Remember, nominations will be accepted during the meeting on the evening of November 20, 2013!
I realize some of you are upset and discouraged by the actions of some of your brothers and sisters in the FOP. I sincerely hope that we can continue to act as professionals and respectfully disagree on single issues while remaining united over the long term. There are many successes that we have had as a lodge over the years and many more are to come. Where would we be without our organization and its efforts? I have talked to many officers from around the country and our state in small and large departments alike that would give anything to have the benefits and pay chart in our contract that we have successfully negotiated. We have lean years and great years but overall, we are doing very, very well. Please don’t give up on the FOP or the City of Tulsa. We will come through on the other side and look back thankful for lessons learned.
Lastly, I accept full responsibility for everything that has happened with your FOP Lodge since I was elected president last December. I have made mistakes and I hope I have done some good. Please know that I have always done what I thought was the absolute best for the membership and individual officers in need. I have done the best I could and I realize sometimes that may not have been good enough for some of you. That is exactly why we have a democratic process of selecting your leadership and you each have a vote and an opportunity to run for office.
If any of you ever wish to ask me questions or just let me know your thoughts, please call or email me any time.
Clay A. Ballenger