The city’s police and fire unions announced plans Monday to picket a national convention of mayors to be held in Baltimore in June, in an effort to force a compromise with Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake over furlough days and pension benefits, The Sun's Julie Scharper reports.
Fraternal Order of Police President Robert F. Cherry (seen at right at a Jan. 7 rally outside City Hall) said he was inviting police and fire unions from across the country to join the protest, which he hoped to spark a “a national discussion about prioritizing public safety.”
The police and firefighters unions have been sparring with Rawlings-Blake since she pushed through an overhaul of their pension system last year that saves the city money but cuts benefits. Tensions increased last month when city officials cut police officers’ pay by nearly 2 percent over the next six months.
A spokesman for Rawlings-Blake said in an emailed statement that it would be “counterproductive to disrupt an event that will generate economic activity and tax revenue to support city services, including police and fire.”
[Picture by Sun photographer Gene Sweeney Jr.]
“It would be far more productive for the unions to use their energy to join the fight for tougher penalties for illegal, loaded gun possession,” to keep police officers safe, said Ryan O’Doherty, referring to a bill crafted by Rawlings-Blake that was introduced in the state legislature Monday.
Cherry said he planned to draft unions across the country to press local officials to boycott the U.S. Conference of Mayors, which will be held for the first time in Baltimore this year.
Mayors who enter the convention, “will be crossing an official picket line put up by a labor union,” said Cherry.