Uncle Sam's money factory, the Bureau of Engraving and Printing, is going to come up with some extra cash of its own -- $4,047.18 to be exact--to settle a false-arrest lawsuit brought by a union representative.
Officials of the agency have declined to talk about the situation, other than to agree that there was an "incident" late last year involving a field representative of the National Treasury Employees Union, and that it has been settled.
NTEU is one of 17 unions at the plant that prints U.S. currency and stamps. It represents 275 of the bureau's 2,400 workers here.
The union's version of the incident goes like this:
Union representative Billy Milton, 29, and two NTEU officials who work at the bureau were bargaining with officials. During a break, Milton and one of his colleagues left the room to get coffee.
After they left, the remaining NTEU official alleged, a management representative told her "you've got a lot of guts associating with Billy Milton." When Milton returned, she told him.
Milton told the bureau official that the statement represented a ULP -- an unfair labor practice. At that point, the union contended in documents it later filed with U.S. District Court, the management official suggested to Milton that he ---- off.
Milton said that sort of thing could be considered a refusal to bargain in good faith.
Then, the union says, he was ordered to leave the building.
Several days later, the union says, Milton, who is an employe of the union and not the bureau, came back to the BEP plant. Guards refused him admission. When Milton asked why he couldn't come in, the union says, he was handcuffed, searched and taken to the Park Police headquarters lockup.
He was released shortly, after officials from the NTEU office posted bond. A week later the government, which had charged him with attempted illegal entry, dropped the charges.
NTEU filed a lawsuit in U.S. District Court charging false arrest, false imprisonment, assault, battery and violation of free speech and access to a public place.
The government this week agreed to settle the claim by paying NTEU a $2,500 settlement (part of which will go to Milton), plus $1,547.18 for legal expenses. The agreement also stipulates that Milton's arrest record be "expunged" and that he be given free access to BEP buildings.