D.C. Superior Court Judge Geoffrey M. Alprin denied yesterday a police union request to order Mayor Marion Barry to submit an arbitrated pay award to the City Council for final approval. The denial means that the controversial police pay issue may not be resolved until this fall because the council is about to recess until September.
"We are disappointed because this would permit the mayor to continue delaying," said Gary Hankins, spokesman for the Fraternal Order of Police, which represents 3,300 District police officers. "The mayor has been playing fast and loose with the law."
Donald Weinberg, the city's chief labor negotiator, said Barry is not delaying, but is only pursuing legal appeals because city officials believe the May 21 arbitration award "exceeded the authority" of the arbitrators. Barry asked the D.C. Public Employee Relations Board to nullify the award, but PERB last month refused. The administration may now appeal the PERB ruling.
The binding arbitration award, which came on a 2-to-1 vote, gave police annual pay raises of 4.5 to 5.5 percent over three years, which are larger raises than those negotiated by other city unions representing more than 20,000 employes.
City labor law directs the mayor to submit such awards to the council, which has 60 days to act or the award is automatically implemented. Barry, however, has decided to appeal the award, a move that has prompted strong criticism from city public employe unions.
The FOP asked Alprin yesterday for a writ of mandamus that would compel Barry to submit the award. But the judge said after a hearing that he saw no need for such "extraordinary relief" because the pay award would be retroactive and the delay is not depriving police of the chance to receive the raises.
Hankins said "there is a great deal of frustration and agitation" among police because they believed the award would be binding and take effect quickly.
Weinberg said city officials believe that appealing the ruling is important because the 65-page ruling relied heavily on what he called "narrow" issues, chiefly about the future consumer price index, rather than other arguments raised by the city.