Philly FOP sues over City Council hearings on proposed contracts

Philadelphia police union wants to keep their bargaining efforts private and are against hearings on city proposals with public input.

Philadelphia FOP President John McNesby at a “Back the Blue” rally in Philadelphia in July 2020. (Kimberly Paynter/WHYY)

Philadelphia FOP President John McNesby at a “Back the Blue” rally in Philadelphia in July 2020. (Kimberly Paynter/WHYY)

Philadelphia’s Fraternal Order of Police is suing City Council and Mayor Jim Kenney’s administration over legislation designed to make their contract bargaining more public.

FOP President John McNesby said they’re being unfairly singled out by a law requiring a public hearing before the city’s offer to the police union is presented in the arbitration process.

“It’s obvious and glaring that once again they are trying to demonize us, put their hands in our pockets and single out only police officers, nobody else is subjected to this,” he said, pointing out that the firefighters’ union is not subject to the same requirement.

Councilmember Katherine Gilmore Richardson said because taxpayers have to pay for increases in a new contract, they should know what the city is offering.

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“During the hearing, the administration will present on the contract terms its planning to offer as part of the arbitration process and then the public will be able to comment,” she said.

McNesby said by only going after the police union they are being unduly put under the spotlight.

“The other city unions received similar raises to theirs and do not have to justify why they got them,” he said.

He maintains the mandate is a violation of state bargaining regulations and believes it will be overturned.

After the lawsuit was announced, Gilmore Richardson issued the following statement:

“The public comment bill (#200364-A) was crafted through thoughtful engagement with legal and policy experts. I reached out regularly to the FOP and its lawyers to discuss any questions or concerns. I am confident that this bill is lawful. This bill creates transparency and accountability for the people of Philadelphia. It is a shame the FOP wants to block a process that will help build trust and confidence, and therefore, improve police/community relations in the City of Philadelphia.”

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