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Police union members vote to have election mediator FOP also dismisses charges against 5 officers

THE BALTIMORE SUN

Members of the local police union voted Tuesday night to permit a third party to run elections that would allow its members to choose between their longtime representative, the Fraternal Order of Police, and the Teamsters.

Teamster supporters and County Attorney Phillip F. Scheibe say the vote seems to clear the way for an election.

The vote came at a heavily attended meeting at the Fraternal Order of Police Lodge 70 in Crownsville.

The majority of the approximately 120 current and former police officers present also voted to dismiss charges of violating union bylaws that had been leveled against five members.

The officers were targeted because they are strong supporters of the Teamsters, said Officer Keith J. Light of the Northern District, one of those charged.

FOP leaders had said that they would not allow a third party to run an election because county law requires the State Mediation Service in the Department of Labor, Licensing and Regulation to run and certify such an election.

However, the state agency told FOP, Teamster and county officials Dec. 23 that it could not afford to oversee the election and suggested that they use a third party, said Karen Napolitano, spokeswoman for the department.

Teamster supporters said they are proposing the American Arbitration Association as the organization that would supervise the vote.

The decision by FOP membership "certainly meets with the spirit of the law," said Scheibe. The state could simply certify the results of an election run by an outside group, he said.

Teamster Local 103 organizer Billy D. Mendenall hailed the FOP vote as a victory.

"All of the objections of all of the parties have been removed," Mendenall said. "If they [the FOP] remove their objections to a third party, the county law would be set aside so this election can be held."

But the head of Lodge 70, which has represented the county's officers for more than two decades, is not sure the vote by his members to use a third party accomplishes anything.

"The motion did nothing other than what was already stated at the [Dec. 23] meeting," said Dennis P. Howell. "This doesn't change any perspective."

Mendenall said 420 of 486 county officers have signed authorization cards supporting an election.

The Teamsters started a push last year to represent law enforcement workers here and elsewhere in the state.

Anne Arundel officers unhappy with the deal the FOP won during the last round of bargaining invited the Teamsters to the county.

The county normally must notify public employee unions by Wednesday of its intention to negotiate a contract, but Scheibe said that he can "work around" that date to give the unions time to hold an election.

Pub Date: 1/09/97

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