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News :: DNC : Labor
Rich White Men Throw A Fit: Boston Police and Firefighters Picket the Mayor’s Conference
29 Jun 2004
Uninformed tourists enjoying a bite to eat in the Back Bay Monday witnessed an unusual spectacle. A synchronized, frat-like chant was coming from around the corner on Dalton St. It sounded “like a football game,” as one of the attendees of the Mayor’s Conference put it. But this was no Patriots game.

            Rather, the aggressive chants were coming from the Boston Police Patrolmen’s Association (BPPA) and the Boston Firefighters Union. The BPPA has been working without a contract for over two years and the firefighters are also in contract talks. The riled up “public servants” took to the sidewalks and a portion of Dalton St. just outside the Sheraton Hotel where Mayor Menino was hosting some functions as part of the United States Conference of Mayors. The cops worked in shifts (switching roles between policing and picketing) from 7am until 11:30am and again at 5pm to 7:30pm.

            The “informational picket” made a cacophony of noise with airhorns, bullhorns, and cops hitting the street with two by fours. The police disrupted local business operations, impeded vehicle and pedestrian traffic flow, and of course, harassed the targeted Mayor’s Conference. Picketers have stuck to Menino like glue, they were at the Symphony on Sunday night, the Sheraton Hotel on Monday morning, and Kings Lanes on Monday night. A schedule of Menino events that have been targeted for pickets has been posted on the BPPA’s website.

            In order to ensure the safety and well being of all citizens, officers on duty stood close by to monitor the demonstration (lazily chatting with coffee cups in hand).

mailboxes.jpg

picketers get rowdy while cops on duty drink coffee

            Union members at the picket were pleased with presidential hopeful Senator John Kerry’s (D-MA) decision not to cross the picket line. Kerry declined to speak at noon on Monday at the Sheraton. Several Mayors, especially Thomas Menino, expressed their disappointment in Kerry’s action.

            “It’s frustrating for me,” said Menino. “These two unions should have allowed John Kerry to go [across the picket line] because it would have helped him get elected… If they were committed the Democratic Party, then why did they do it? Why didn’t they give him the courtesy to pass and not force him to make this decision?”

            Replacing Kerry at the podium inside was our beloved Governor Mitt Romney, who derided Kerry’s decision not to cross the line, “A mayor, a governor and a president have a responsibility for making tough decisions and balancing budgets," Mr. Romney said, according to The Associated Press. "Senators don't. You always want to support labor and the efforts of labor . . . but our first responsibility is to the people."

            Off duty police officers began arriving shortly after 6pm, by the dozens. Some cruised in on shiny new Harleys donning hundred dollar Oakley sunglasses. Others, like the firefighters, arrived on Charter buses and were warmly greeted by the police in uniform often exchanging hugs, handshakes, and winks.

            They took to the street with professionally made campaign-style signs attached to heavy, four foot long two-by-fours (used to bang against metal grates, police barricades, and the pavement) megaphones and air horns. One union man dressed up as an anarchist, “it’s a joke,” he said. They sought to answer a question, and their query was made public using a trick they no doubt picked up from the very anarchists they mock. Several picketers left the line, somehow managed to sneak by their police buddies assigned to watch them, and successfully dropped a large banner with their challenge emblazoned on it off of the parking garage behind King’s Lanes. It read: “How many mayors does it take to sign a contract?”

Banner.jpg

The banner

            None of the “protesters” were arrested for the banner drop.

            Christian Flynn from Harvard’s Institute of Politics and the son of a former cop, attended the Mayor’s Conference and expressed his disgust with the picket line. “This is embarrassing for the police,” he commented. Just then one of the picketing policeman yelled, “[Menino] is a closet Republican!” This was indeed an odd comment coming from a union whose president still cannot suppress a smile when gazing at a photo of him self and fellow members lined up with George H. W. Bush back when they endorsed him in ’88.

            One is only left to wonder what Christian Flynn’s reaction would have been if he had hung around to view over 150 big, burly men quacking themselves hoarse from Boston Duck Tours vehicles as they drove by the picket outside Kings. Or when Elvis impersonator (obviously imitating the latter part of the King’s career) serenaded the Mayor’s Conference with the union’s demands. Or when one of the union leaders had a mock negotiation talk with a man-sized chicken named “Menino.”

            Not everyone was appalled by the commotion in the Back Bay area. After expressing their complete support of the police’s picket, two upscale female employees from Verizon said, “When someone has a peaceful protest they are trying to bring about change.” They added, “They make practically nothing. They deserve more money.” Hmm, it’s all relative I suppose.

            According to an article from Rich Klein and Kevin Joy that appeared in the Boston Globe on 3/29/04, “Boston’s rank-and-file police officers brought home $78,906” including detail and overtime pay. Compare that to the average US median yearly income of $18,756 (US Census bureau 2001). “On average in 2002…Boston officers are among the best-paid big-city cops in the nation.”

            The BPPA union is seeking %18 percent pay raises over the next four years which they say would put them on a par to where Boston’s firefighters stand now, increasing their average salaries (with detail and overtime pay) to $87,908. But this does not tell the whole story. In 2000 the police union won a long battle that gave them the Quinn Bill, a piece of legislation that encourages the men in blue to go back to school giving earners of master’s, bachelor’s, and associate’s degrees raises of $13,200, $10,500, and $5,200 respectively. With the Quinn Bill the average police officer can earn more than the average firefighter does now if he or she acquires a bachelor’s or master’s degree.

            Back on the scene of Mondays informational picket, others passers by were undecided about the issue.

            “It’s difficult to take a stand because there are labor issues involved, which I am supportive of; but, these are the same police officers who harass protesters for doing the same thing: exercising their first amendment rights” said one observer. While the picketing police were putting on their rowdy show, there were no reported harassments or arrests. The patty wagons, riot gear, and horses normally seen at protests were all curiously absent from the scene. The same observer, who asked to have their name withheld, continued, “I have been reading a lot about the issue…I feel like [the police officers] are using [the picket] to gain support for a significant pay increase…It seems selfish on all sides.”

            Menino, stated that he would like to continue negotiations but is frustrated because “the BPPA’s lawyer is on vacation” and they cannot continue until the lawyer returns. But vacation or no vacation according to Jim Barry, a rep from the BPPA, “We will protest everything this mayor is hosting and sponsoring.”

            Officers have been rotating shifts. According to one officer, “See those guys over there [in uniform], they were out here protesting earlier.” Due to the nature of their work, police officers and firefighters are not allowed by law to go on strike or withhold services.

            “We would never withhold services,” said Police Officer Daniel Fagan moments prior to a chorus of God Bless America. “We will protect this city. We love this city.”

            As guests of the Mayor’s Conference filed into Kings Lounge for dinner, the picketers chanted, “Scabs! Blind wizard! Don’t go in!”

            A man named Howard who was attending the Conference and spoke about mayor solidarity said, “the only one who didn’t cross whatever that is over there is Kerry.”

            When asked why people in attendance at the Mayor’s Conference were going inside Kings Lanes across the picket, guests reported that they felt there was “no connection between the two events” and did not feel that they were crossing a picket line.

            The unions were however, easily successful at convincing Mayor Gregory Hill from Redondo Beach, California not to cross the picket line. This might have something to do with the fact that he is embroiled in a battle with his own greedy police force back home, they are demanding 90 percent of their salary during retirement.

MayorHillCalifornia.jpg

Mayor Greg Hill from Redondo Beach

            “Were do you want to eat? I’ll buy you dinner so you don’t have to eat there.” offered one picketing officer to Mayor Hill. Hill hesitated until another union member fastened a police lapel pin on his overcoat and then accepted the offer.

            One of the other patrons of Kings, noting that the picketers were aggressively chanting at him to not go in the building said, “I am just a citizen. They don’t even know who I am.”

            Additionally, the picketers taunted a just above minimum wage worker who said, “I am just trying to get home from work.”

            After witnessing the days events, one might ask whether the rowdy crowd behind the barricade was a simply a bunch of rich, white, men throwing a fit or whether they were using their status as a labor organization at a critical time on a financially burdened city to influence a more than fair settlement. One might also ask whether their motivations are political rather than financial. This is a Democratic city in a Democratic state and union head Thomas Nee even claims Democratic party allegiance, yet those who have been assigned to protect and serve us all have chosen to block Kerry’s appearance in front of the country’s mayors where he might be expected to gain support. The Mayor’s no saint, after giving himself a 20% pay raise (to $150,000) in 2002 as the city’s finances plummeted, and Kerry’s no Peach either with his voting record, but this seems to be quite a bit more than a simple labor dispute. It is difficult to guess what will happen if the police and the city cannot come to an agreement before the DNC (and it is in both of their interests to do so). Protestors could be facing the National Guard, a complacent and cooperative police force, or the same old same old. After all, police have a long way to go before they will be happily shaking hands with protestors. In an article displayed on the BPPA website early this year “leftists” and anti-war protestors were referred to as “wastes of DNA” whose opinions were “bovine excrement” and likened to “self-flagellating…Islamists imported from Iran.”

See also:
http://www.bppa.org/

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Re: Rich White Men Throw A Fit: Boston Police and Firefighters Picket the Mayor’s Conference
29 Jun 2004

Say on!

It is a very interesting political situation that these particular unions have decided to join. From what I understand, the BPPA endorsed George W. Bush during the 2000 election season, and creating a scenario where the local Democratic bureaucracy looks bad has inevitably echoed up to the Democratic National Convention.

Of the picketers themselves, they are public servants and they do have a certain protection from government labor unions. It's both comforting and disconcerting to see how the United States government supports their civil rights, including the right to protest, when Union-bashing corporations like Walmart and Starbucks continue to receive tax-breaks and extreme "protections" from citizens who attempt to protest Corporate policies.

Of note, I know that the police are very quick to respond to illegal banners that are hung on private property. I wonder how long the "How Many Mayors Does It Take To Sign A Contract" banner hung from the parking garage above Kings before it was forcibly removed from the policemen on duty. I also wonder if the individuals who hung the banner were reprimanded or charged with trespass like many banner-hangers at other protests.

There does apprear to be a certain conflict of interest on this particular topic - expecially with the fast approaching Democratic National Convention. Though I have seen evidence that point in the opposite direction, I'm hoping that the police will be able to distinguish the difference between non-violent protesters - the majority of folks who are coming to protest the DNC in the standard way - and the mainstream media's fiction of urine-bombing, molotov cocktail toting, acid-throwing, supposed "anarchists" that we've all heard of but never actually seen in "terrorist"-style action.

Well, one can hope...
Re: Rich White Men Throw A Fit: Boston Police and Firefighters Picket the Mayor’s Conference
29 Jun 2004
I think it's VERY dangerous for any left group to associate itself with the police in any way. In the end, the police are only asking to get paid more when they beat and shoot at us. They already make almost twice the ammount of the average two-child family. With over 6000 homeless on Boston streets last winter, it's painfully clear that police have no interests but their own. That said, it would still be amusing if they managed to shut down the convention.
Re: Rich White Men Throw A Fit: Boston Police and Firefighters Picket the Mayor’s Conference
30 Jun 2004
Pete is right on in his first two sentences. The police on not workers. Their role is to protect the interests of property and profit. Not just the left but workers in general, including firefighters, should seperate there fight from that of the cops. The police "unions" have no place in the labor movement, they are our enemies. But the situation of cops and actual workers picketing the convention brings up a different situation were workers sould not cross the workers picket while working to keep their struggle distinct from the cops, "asking to get paid more when they beat and shoot at us". Us being workers leftists and most often blacks and the latino poor.
Re: Rich White Men Throw A Fit: Boston Police and Firefighters Picket the Mayor’s Conference
30 Jun 2004
After this posting, two items of interest might ought to be shared beginning with the "rank and file" salary figures posted by Klein and Joy of the Globe (owned by NYT Inc). After a long-distance interview spurred by the above article, officer Jim Barry, the "Legislative Agent" for the BPPA, strongly disputed the accuracy of the numbers provided by the Boston Globe. Barry claimed that the base salary of a Boston police officer in the first three years is a little over $53K, a difference of about $25K from the Globe's quote. Barry stated that a minority of officers that work loads of overtime artificially inflate the numbers and don't accurately reflect the average officer's salary in a city with an extremely high cost of living. He added that the Quinn Bill was a financial incentive, but also incurred substantial student loans and added to a workload already cranked up by being a cop and a student. Barry seemed to reserve a certain amount of incredulity for the people on the "force" willing to exploit the overtime incentive just so they can make more money and afford more stuff at the expense of their family and overall quality of life. "You're not getting productivity," he said. "Nobody should be working like that. It causes problems at home and is not a healthy thing. It really is a bad thing for people to be doing." I'm sure many don't sympathize with Barry, but the situation is innaresting in two ways. It shows how the press oversimplifies and exaggerates to sell more papers and/or kowtows to the elite's political and/or corporate agenda by making the causes of labor extremely unsympathetic, even if it is withing the relatively pampered realm of working stiffs in law enforcement. It also shows that even the well-payed cops of Boston make stupid sacrifices to achieve the hyperbolized material status that consumes most American consumers, which is very sad. Even Barry is aware and critical of that.

The second thing is Barry's claim that the BPPA "will protest everything this mayor is hosting and sponsoring” seemed to have been premature. A suspiciously convenient announcement on Tuesday, June 29 by the BPPA said they will not picket the DNC late this July. Not only does this bode well for Kerry, who now is blessed with the union's endorsement and a relatively controversy free DNC, but it also served as a resounding dope-slap against Menino, who is despised by the BPPA, especially after they brought in the Gov. to replace Kerry (anyways, I can't wait for the kiss, suck, and make-up ruse between Kerry and Menino coming soon in the next few weeks).

Good news all around, except for the protesters who will be facing a fully staffed Boston police department, sure to be logging lots of overtime to protect the Party people and the corporate interests that will lavish their special interest money upon them crazy Dems. Meanwhile, protesters will be sequestered and arrested on the streets and the pattern will settle comfortably into the status quo as all memory fades. I'm reasonably certain they won't be as kind to banner droppers, mailbox standers and chanters as they were to their own. And now this . . .
Re: Rich White Men Throw A Fit: Boston Police and Firefighters Picket the Mayor’s Conference
30 Jun 2004
No one should be supporting the selfish demands of the cops; they have no clue what the word "solidarity" means as they are the first to whip out the batons and pepper spray at any non-pig protest or non-pig labor struggle. Throughout the history of the labor movement cops across the country have always been quick to come in and bust heads--they are the enemy of the unions and the workers. And for those who feel any sympathy for the cops or think there are good cops and bad cops, I quote George Jackson: "A pig is a pig."
Re: Rich White Men Throw A Fit: Boston Police and Firefighters Picket the Mayor’s Conference
02 Jul 2004
I was staying at the Hilton hotel at 40 dalton st this week and from what I had seen the officers where no worse behaved than many of the demos reported here I had seen first hand. So what is the problem with some of your demos carring out the same behavior by city permitted police and fire unions. It sounds hypocritical.

The picketers I had seen at dalton st did not have 2x4s for picket sign posts. absolutely not uniformed or plain clothes on duty officers participated actively in the protest during the time I had watched. The 18 percent increase is made up from a 3percent annual cost of living increase times the years the contract has gone unsigned and the duration of the new contract.

I applaud the members of this forum who did pay attention and documented factually the police fire protest. Now take the verifiably factual information from this protest and use it for your own benefit in planing and executing your own demo.

The Title of the article is hardly appropriate as 50 percent of the protestors were minority. As far as the comment "throwing a fit"....have you all looked at yourselves lately... the cops chanted and made there opinions known. They did not obstruct the flow of traffic or park illegally.

One notable action that was corrected immediately that most of indy media protest fail to do is to self discipline your own protestors. EX two offduty boston cops protesting carried a banner that stated "yankees suck" the banner cops made two circuits before the organizer made them put it away as it distracted from the fundemental message the protest was addressing (the contract). The Demo's by some groups here I have witnessed go of on physical, verbal and illegal activity that the protest looks more like anarchy of many movements fighting to be heard the most. Ya'll got to learn self discipline and work together for the one goal of the protest.

Last word your complaints about being beat and shot at are widely distorted and obvious propaganda, something like the yellow journalism of the original poster. So what if cops drink coffee on duty.

BTW the mennino administration ordered 400 extra cops on security detail at the JFK meeting just so there were virtually no cops to protest. And ya'll complain about suppression of rights and oppression.

enough said
BOB gorman
Re: Rich White Men Throw A Fit: Boston Police and Firefighters Picket the Mayor’s Conference
02 Jul 2004
Hi Bob.

Is this a new tactic since this union has started to really push Boston about their contract? What was the event at JFK that happened at the same time and they need the huge security detail that you describe? Where can we find information about where police are allocated for specific events, and stuff like that?

I'd just like to make a comment about IndyMedia "protesters". The volunteers at IndyMedia are media activists, but the folks who protest and often submit stories about protests aren't necessarily activists. And, even among activists, there's a certain solidarity about most of the causes that you see signs and stuff for. There was a popular movement not too long ago that's still going strong - it's called the Anti-Globalization Movement. And seeing a little bit of everything IS a show of solidarity.

Cheers!
Re: Rich White Men Throw A Fit: Boston Police and Firefighters Picket the Mayor’s Conference
02 Jul 2004
Re: Rich White Men Throw A Fit: Boston Police and Firefighters Picket the Mayor’s Conference
by S. Eppler
SEppler (nospam) MassArt.edu (unverified) 02 Jul 2004
Hi Bob.

Is this a new tactic since this union has started to really push Boston about their contract?
BOB: Is it a new tactic? I don't know much except what I heard from the cops picketing at dalton st. From what I gather it was the administrations version of what is known as the blue flu (mass law prohibits law enforcement officers from striking, so they call in sick) It appears that the mayors admin people were told to have way more officers than they needed in order to take available picketing officers (off duty)from picketing.
What was the event at JFK that happened at the same time and they need the huge security detail that you describe?
BOB: from what the officers said a minimal security detail was needed as the JFK is on a penninsula and easily controlled. Where can we find information about where police are allocated for specific events, and stuff like that?
BOB: Good question Area cars (the local patrol) are hardly ever tapped for events etc. that is why unexpected "events" are hit (figurativly) so hard as it takes manpower away from the rest of the area. in most departments like boston and brockton there is a "special services unit"(ssu) (not swat) more like an events coordinator with crowd control knowledge. Usually the SSU gets officers from off duty and shift swaps, vacations etc. like is being done now for the Brockton fair. As far as I know there is no venue for contact and getting the layout plans. It is usually a formula like one officer for every 6 people depending on the scenario. That ratio is just used as an exemplar. what makes knowing even harder is when there is a mix of agencies with differing formulae.

I'd just like to make a comment about IndyMedia "protesters". The volunteers at IndyMedia are media activists, but the folks who protest and often submit stories about protests aren't necessarily activists. And, even among activists, there's a certain solidarity about most of the causes that you see signs and stuff for. There was a popular movement not too long ago that's still going strong - it's called the Anti-Globalization Movement. And seeing a little bit of everything IS a show of solidarity.
BOB: thanks for the clarification..my bad (as my daughter would say) It is hard to tell the players without a program. Hope this helps! (bob)


Cheers!
Re: Rich White Men Throw A Fit: Boston Police and Firefighters Picket the Mayor’s Conference
10 Jul 2004
These people are nothing but a bunch of parasitic racist ignorant slime who profit from abusing the oppressed people of color in this city. They don't deserve what they're getting paid now. I wish they would hold their KKK rally some place where I don't have to look at them or where they're in my way.
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03 Jun 2006
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