Mayor Marion Barry's administration filed an appeal with the D.C. Public Employee Relations Board yesterday seeking to overturn an arbitration panel's ruling in favor of city police union contract demands.
Gary Hankins, chairman of the labor committee of the Fraternal Order of Police, yesterday accused Barry of attempting to weaken the police union.
"He is a union-buster," Hankins said in reaction to the filing of the appeal. "I believe that the mayor has intended to break the FOP . . . because we wouldn't knuckle under."
Barry has said that meeting the contract award to the 3,300 FOP members would cost the city $23 million more than his administration's last contract offer and could cause budget problems. Accepting the panel's decision would encourage other unions to refuse to bargain in good faith and to count on the arbitration process instead, Barry has maintained.
The award to the FOP, the first salary dispute decided by binding arbitration under D.C. labor law, rejected a city argument that the panel should uphold a longstanding principle of paying police officers and firefighters the same salary.
The appeal was filed at PERB in the closing minutes of the business day yesterday. Donald H. Weinberg, Barry's chief labor negotiator, declined to say what the basis of the city's appeal is.
Other options open to Barry are to appeal the award in court or to ask the City Council to overturn the arbitration panel's ruling. Under city law, the council can overturn the contract award by a two-thirds vote -- nine of the 13 members -- but at least five members already have expressed reluctance to do so.
Hankins, who had not yet seen a copy of the administration's appeal to PERB, said that it might take a month or two for PERB to act, and that if the union wins there he would expect to see the mayor take the fight to the courts.
The arbitration decision provided the police officers with pay raises ranging from 4 1/2 to 5 1/2 percent over three years, compared with the 3 to 4 percent raises accepted by unions representing firefighters and other city employes as part of negotiated contracts.