Mayor Marion Barry has invited members of the City Council to a closed-door briefing today to urge them to overturn an arbitration panel's unprecedented ruling in favor of D.C. police officers' contract demands, according to aides to the mayor and council members.
The ruling, if allowed to stand, would provide police officers with $23 million more in pay and benefits than the administration was willing to offer. It would also discard the longstanding principle that police and firefighters should receive the same salaries.
Joslyn N. Williams, president of the AFL-CIO's Metropolitan Washington Council, told reporters at the District Building yesterday that organized labor would lobby the council to uphold the arbitration panel's 2-to-1 ruling.
"We consider this decision to be final and binding, and we believe that overturning this decision will undermine this city's collective bargaining process," said Williams, who was flanked by six other officials of major public employe unions.
Barry is expected to argue at today's meeting that the contract award to the 3,300 members of the Frateral Order of Police is too costly and may result in serious budget problems for the District, according to an aide. The administration also fears that if the contract award is allowed to stand, other unions that have already signed new contracts will demand additional benefits.
The American Federation of Government Employees (AFGE) filed an unfair labor practices complaint with the D.C. Public Employee Relations Board on May 22, shortly after the arbitration panel's ruling, seeking to reopen contract talks with the city.
The union accused Barry of understating the city's 1985 revenues by $41.3 million and giving misleading warnings of possible layoffs while negotiating a three-year contract with AFGE last fall.
Yesterday, George Bispham of Council 20 of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME), said that his union would file a similar complaint with the employe relations board next week.
"Someone lied to us or we were misled" about the city's financial condition during contract talks last year, Bispham said.
Under D.C. law, the police contract award will take effect in 60 days unless two-thirds of the City Council -- nine of 13 members -- votes to overturn it. Union officials said yesterday they doubted Barry could muster the necessary votes.
At least five council members -- enough to block the mayor -- have indicated reluctance to overturn the contract award to the police officers. They include Chairman David A. Clarke and council members Frank Smith Jr. (D-Ward 1), Polly Shackleton (D-Ward 3), H.R. Crawford (D-Ward 7) and Betty Ann Kane (D-At Large).
An aide to Carol Schwartz (R-At Large) said Schwartz was not happy with the contract award but would have trouble justifying overturning it.