Labor complaint filed against borough

A hearing has been scheduled to examine charges that the mayor allegedly berated and intimidated officers.

A hearing has been scheduled to examine charges that the mayor allegedly berated and intimidated officers.

August 08, 2002|by STACEY DANZUSO

CHAMBERSBURG, Pa. - The Pennsylvania Labor Relations Board has issued a formal complaint against the Borough of Chambersburg and scheduled a hearing after reviewing a charge filed last month by the police officers' union.

"We issued a complaint on Monday," said Jack Neurorh, an attorney with the labor relations board. "We examined the charge, and assuming the facts alleged are true, it calls for action."

The Chambersburg Police Officers' Association filed the charge July 2, accusing Mayor Tom Newcomer of cursing at and berating three officers in a closed-door meeting after the union decided to move labor negotiations into binding arbitration.


The association also accused Newcomer of interfering with contract negotiations and trying to intimidate Patrol Officer 1st Class Walter Bietsch, Sgt. John Phillipy and Cpl. Michael Rosenberry.

As mayor, Newcomer oversees the police department. He is also a member of the negotiating committee.

Neurorh said the board has assigned a conciliator to work with the borough and the union to see if they can work out the dispute before the Oct. 11 hearing, currently scheduled for 9:30 a.m. in the Labor and Industry Building in Harrisburg, Pa.

He said the conciliator will determine how things proceed.

"Some talk on the phone together and others have sit-down meetings in our office or somewhere else," Neurorh said.

Both Thomas Finucane, the borough's solicitor, and Ian Blynn, the attorney for the police association, said they will work with the conciliator.

"We are always happy to resolve things. It depends entirely on what the borough is willing to say and do," Blynn said.

Finucane, who said the borough received notice of the complaint Tuesday, said it would save everyone time if the issue were resolved with the conciliator.

Newcomer, who was not available for comment, publicly apologized during a borough council meeting last month and said it was never his intent to use his position to influence the officers.

"There was never any malice intended or thoughts of fear or intimidation," Newcomer said at the borough council meeting.

However, according to the charge, the officers saw Newcomer's actions as "an attempt by the borough to coerce the association into withdrawing its demand for arbitration and to coerce acceptance of the borough's bargaining position and to discourage membership in a labor organization."

The police officers' contract expires at the end of the year, but they are forbidden by state law to strike.

The Herald-Mail Articles