What’s the difference between D.C. FOP Lodge 1 and the D.C. Police Union?

After Chairman Burton’s memorandum to the membership concerning the dues increase passed by the Fraternal Order of Police Jerrard F. Young District of Columbia Lodge No. 1 (the Lodge), I received a lot of feedback asking the same general questions: “What’s the difference?” and “Why?” Explaining the structure of the Lodge and the multiple Unions affiliated with it can be confusing. In this article, I will attempt to clarify those differences.

The D.C. Police Union is located at 1524 Pennsylvania Avenue, SE and is a labor organization and the exclusive representative for the Police Officers, Detectives, and Sergeants of the Metropolitan Police Department. The D.C. Police Union is responsible for labor related issues (e.g. contract negotiations, disciplinary matters, administrative and legal representation, and all issues related to member’s rights). In addition to all of those responsibilities we also administer dental and vision insurance, legal services, as well as the Metropolitan Police Employee Assistance Program (MEAP).

The Lodge is located at 711 Fourth Street, NW and is social organization with a membership that includes almost every police agency that operates inside the District of Columbia regardless of their rank. The lodge administers the FOP vehicle registration tag program, staffs “Tent City” for Police Week, and other social functions related to law enforcement personnel. The Lodge, as mandated by its own By-Laws, has no involvement in the day-to-day operations of the D.C. Police Union.

Although the District of Columbia is not a state, the Lodge operates as a State Lodge. In the state of Maryland, the State FOP Lodge handles the majority of issues at the state level, such as lobbying the State legislatures and testifying on behalf of the law enforcement officers that they represent. A recent example of a State Lodge doing their function is when the State Delegates from Baltimore City were trying to destroy the Maryland Police Officer’s Bill of Rights. The State FOP Lodge President Vince Canales and his team did an amazing job of lobbying the state legislatures. They explained why the Police Officer’s Bill of Rights was important and why the Delegates proposed legislation was poorly written and unfair to Maryland Law Enforcement Officers. The Lodge does not have a legislative arm to lobby on behalf of its members working in the District.

In 2011, Mayor Vincent Gray improperly changed the payment formula for health care benefits for all government increasing employees by three percent. The affected employees included Lodge members of all ranks from the D.C. Housing Authority, D.C. Protective Services Division, and the Metropolitan Police Department. By having an effective legislative presence the D.C. Police Union was able to reverse this unilateral change that would have negatively impacted the finances of its members. The Lodge was missing from this fight and did not assist the D.C. Police Union or any of its member Labor Committees in anyway even though Lodge members were directly impacted by the altered payment formula. This is one of many examples where the Lodge fails to properly represent their membership.

In a recent email Lodge President Marcello Muzzatti wrote that “by rule” the Lodge cannot “interfere” with the Union. While the last thing the Union would want is any person or organization interfering with our operation, organized help would have been appreciated during former Mayor Adrian Fenty’s term where he decimated unions and the D.C. Police Union was under constant attack from his office as well as MPD management. Instead, the Lodge was mostly silent and showed little interests in the well being of the Union’s membership. President Muzzatti’s statement contradicts Article 2, Section 2 the Lodge’s By-Laws which reads: “In regional or national matters the Board of Directors or the President may provide such legal or technical advisory services as may be appropriate.” Further, Article 2, section 1 requires the Lodge to be aware of all matters relevant to its members and provides, in part, that: “The Lodge shall be cognizant of all matters of local and national scope and concern affecting the welfare and interests of law enforcement officers and their dependents.”

Regarding the dues, the timing for the Lodge dues increase appears to be more than coincidental with the recent raises the membership received after almost seven years without a cost of living adjustment. The Lodge dues increase became effective in the beginning of calendar year 2015, which would significantly affect the Union’s budget because it operates on the fiscal beginning on October 1 each year. If the Union paid the dues increase it would be taking money away from our operating budget impacting our ability to represent our membership; it would also violate the Union’s Bylaws. Article 10.2 provides in part, “No agreement, contract, or obligation involving the payment of money or the credit or liability of the LABOR COMMITTEE shall be made unless the same is authorized or directed by resolution of the Executive Committee and duly entered in the Minutes thereof.”

I hope this article explains the significant differences between the D.C. Police Union and Lodge, while the Executive Committee understands that members may want to continue their Lodge membership, by allowing our members to determine their level of support to the Lodge, we can alleviate some of the confusion of the membership and the general public. Keep in mind that the decision to opt-out of paying Lodge Dues will have no bearing on the member’s representation or the D.C. Police Union’s ability to exercise its rights within the Labor Agreement.

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Posted July 09 2015 at 2:24 PM by Marinos Marinos | Permanent Link

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