REYNOLDSVILLE — The Pennsylvania Labor Relations Board has filed a proposed decision and order regarding Teamsters Local Union No. 110 v. Reynoldsville Borough, a labor suit filed by Union Representative Rick Keller on behalf of former Sergeant Tammy Murray against the borough in June 2020.
In the proposed decision dated Aug. 13, 2021, it was found the borough had committed an unfair labor practice and calls for the reinstatement of Murray to her full-time position in the police department.
Keller is the union representative with Teamsters Local #110, representing the Reynoldsville Borough Police Department. He filed the unfair labor practice suit against the borough on behalf of Murray because of her position being cut from full-time to part-time. Her position was later eliminated completely with the 2021 budget when no money was allocated for part-time officers.
The 15-page document is available in its entirety on the PLRB website, detailing the hearing, the conclusion, and the proposed decisions and order. The document is authored by Hearing Examiner Stephen Helmerich with the PLRB.
According to the PLRB filing, prior to 2020, Reynoldsville Mayor Louie “Peach” Caltagarone did not have much involvement with the police department “due to his conflicts with the borough council.” He also did not participate in the collective bargaining negotiations between the union and the borough that took place in July 2019. The bargaining took place between former Chief Troy Bell, Murray and Keller and the borough was represented by former council members Sue Ellen Wells and T.J. Sliwinski.
The Collective Bargaining Agreement was reached and approved by the borough council. The CBA has the effective date of Jan. 1, 2020 through Dec. 31, 2024. Caltagarone was upset that he was not part of the negotiations, said he was busy, and did not sign the agreement, according to the document.
According to the document, the timeline of events began in January 2020 when the current Reynoldsville Borough Council re-opened the proposed budget due to issues with the per capita tax being advertised improperly. During a Jan. 8, 2020 meeting, Helmerich noted the reason for re-opening the budget was “expressly because the ‘per capita and assessment taxes were not advertised correctly, so they were void.’ No mention is made of any budget shortfall motivating Council action. No mention is made of the Police Department at all. No mention of the ‘CBA being invalid’ is made.”
Helmerich continued that during the Jan. 13, 2020 meeting, the council discussed the need for additional part-time assistance, not less. There was also no mention at that time of reducing any of the full-time officers to part-time and no mentioned concern with the union’s CBA.
Also noted in the document, the council discussed possible regionalization during the Jan. 14, 2020 meeting. Former councilman, Bill Cebulskie Jr. said “he would like to review the possibility of Regionalization of the Police forces. With a half hour to one hour response time from PSP, he feels it is necessary to look into this possibility,” according to Helmerich.
On Jan. 14, 2020, Caltagarone issued three directives to the police department, with the third regarding police vehicles, and being on-call. Murray and Bell discussed this, and Murray had concerns about safety, specifically with increasing response time to officer assistance calls, according to the document.
Murray said on-call is not part of the CBA and is something that would have to be discussed through the union. When she brought this up, it upset Caltagarone, Helmerich wrote.
According to the document, the following conversation ensued; “Murray asked the Mayor, ‘Could you word the Directives to be more specific about what [the Borough] wanted from them?’ The Mayor then stood right next to Murray’s desk and yelled at her, ‘I am not changing it to meet your needs.’ Murray was sitting at her desk and the Mayor stood over top of her. Murray responded, ‘I am not asking you to change anything. I am just asking you to be more specific about what you meant by it.’ The Mayor responded, ‘The Union should have checked with me before they put anything in [the CBA] because I run this department. Not you and not the Union.’ The Mayor responded, ‘Every time I try and do something, every time I try and do something with the Police Department, make a change, a directive for example, you are just going to run to the Union?’ The Mayor also told Murray, ‘If you are not going to sign the Directive, punch out.’ Murray responded, ‘Is that really what you want me to do because you are going to pay me to stay at home and I haven’t done anything wrong.’ The Mayor responded, ‘Why? Because you are going to call the Union? So, you are going to nitpick everything I do and when you don’t get your way, you are going to involve the Union.’”
Later, during a special meeting on Jan. 29, 2020 the council approved a motion to modify the police budget because the contract was invalid, and they wanted to renegotiate the police contract. When Caltagarone told Bell this, he said it was because the CBA was not “a legal agreement” and the borough wanted to move to one full-time and one-part time officer, according to the filing.
“Bell asked, ‘If we do not renegotiate what is going to happen?’ and the Mayor responded, ‘The Police Department would be disbanded if the contract could not be agreed upon and the State Police would assume coverage,’” Helmerich wrote.
The council argued the CBA was not valid because Caltagarone never signed it, and it was approved by members of council who were no longer there.
“I infer that the threat to move police coverage to the Pennsylvania State Police is evidence of animus and pretext since, approximately two weeks earlier, Borough Council had discussed the need for more police coverage due to the inadequacy of Pennsylvania State Police response times,” Helmerich wrote.
Later during a meeting between Council President Cebulskie, Mayor Caltagarone, and former council member John Burkett and Bell, Murray and Keller, Keller told the borough the CBA was valid, and a valid CBA would not be re-opened.
“We are done here. We are going to let the Labor Board handle it. If you are not willing to open the contract or renegotiate then we will just abolish the Department and start over in two years,” Cebulskie concluded the conversation, according to the document.
During the Feb. 12, 2020 meeting, council approved the new budget with the cuts to the police department, and demoted Murray to part-time, effective immediately, the filing states. The union and Murray were told there would be cuts to other departments as well, like the street crew. There were not cuts to the road crew or any other department, according to the document. Murray was not scheduled for more than 10 hours per week, per the Mayor’s schedule following this change, Helmerich wrote.
In his conclusion of the discussions Helmerich writes, “Thus, in less than a month, the Borough Council had gone from no plan to move anyone to part-time status to moving Murray to part-time status along with clear expressions of anti-union animus and threats to disband the Department along with novel and incredible declarations that the CBA was invalid…. Then the events of January 14 happened between the Mayor and Tammy Murray. These events sparked a wave of anti-union animus against Murray and the Union, culminating in the decision to punish her by reducing her to part-time and then capping her hours at 10 per week. The Borough then used the excuse of moving money into streets as pretext for its actions.”
Through a hearing, it was found the borough has committed an unfair labor practice in violation of Section 6(1)(a) and © of the PLRA Act 111. Among the orders and directs of the borough, Helmerich writes:
“Take the following affirmative action which the Hearing Examiner finds necessary to effectuate the policies of the PLRA and Act 111:
(a) Immediately reinstate Tammy Murray to a full-time police officer position;
(b) Immediately pay Tammy Murray and make Tammy Murray whole for all lost wages and benefits she would have earned as a full-time police officer from February 13, 2020, until the date of her reinstatement, including but not limited to wage increases received by the bargaining unit during the backpay period and any other lost benefits, medical and dental payments and co-payments or accoutrements and terms and conditions of employment enjoyed by full-time police officers, including any differentials in holiday pay, overtime and the accrual of sick and vacation time, as well as pension contributions during the backpay period;
(c) Immediately pay Tammy Murray interest at the rate of six percent per annum on the outstanding back pay owed to her;
(d) Post a copy of this Decision and Order within five (5) days from the effective date hereof in a conspicuous place readily accessible to the bargaining unit employes and have the same remain so posted for a period of ten (10) consecutive days;
(e) Furnish to the Board within twenty (20) days of the date hereof satisfactory evidence of compliance with this Decision and Order by completion and filing of the attached Affidavit of Compliance; and
(f) Serve a copy of the attached Affidavit of Compliance upon the Association.”