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Thursday, August 11, 2022
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POLICE PRESS LABOR COMPLAINTS

The government's cries of financial crisis do not move the the territory's police unions, the Police Benevolent Association and Law Supervisors Union told a press conference Thursday.
Officer Elroy Raymo of the St. Thomas-St. John district and Cpl. Naomi Joseph of St. Croix, representing the PBA, and the LSU's Capt. Al Donastorg recited a litany of what they described as unfair labor practices.
Joseph took the administration to task for its failure to name police chiefs in both districts, saying the rank and file "don't know who is in charge." She also said having acting chiefs for eight months was a violation of V.I. law, particularly with regard to the PBA's contract provisions on disciplinary and grievance hearings. In such proceedings, she said, "the chief and only the chief can hear our cases."
Radio One has reported that the governor is reluctant to name permanent chiefs because of plans to reorganize the law-enforcement infrastructure, creating a territory-wide chief of police with deputy chiefs for each district.
Raymo said former Gov. Roy L. Schneider "signed our contract," but the pact has not been submitted to the legislature.
"Police here make on average much lower than any police department on the mainland," he asserted, saying the PBA had approached the governor's office to discuss its concerns, but with no response.
"There are some who may say the government has no money, but the governor himself is staying in a $7,000-a-month house paid for by the taxpayers," Raymo said. Two of the governor's top assistants "got a $14,000 raise," he added, while "we didn't even get a quarter."
(Edward Thomas, chief executive officer of The West Indian Company Ltd., has previously stated that WICO, not the government, is paying the rent for the private residence where the governor is staying temporarily while the official residence, a part of WICO's holdings, undergoes repairs.)
Raymo also criticized the administration for negotiating with private-sector trash haulers on St. Croix this week. "They don't have a contract with the V.I. government," he said. "We are the ones that have a legal and binding contract with this government of the Virgin Islands."
The intervention of Lt. Gov. Gerard Luz James II to resolve the dump-collection work stoppage by arranging payment to the trash haulers was "a slap in the face" to police, he said.
Raymo also complained of what he termed "injustices" by other law-enforcement authorities in dealing with accusations of wrongdoing by police recently. "If they can't catch me with 10 violations," he said, "they'll catch me with three."
Donastorg, whose group represents sergeants, lieutenants and captains, said a hearing is set for Wednesday, Aug. 11, on a complaint the LSU filed in June with the Public Employees Relations Board. At issue, he said, is the fact that "no pay scale is in place" for police.
The pay scale "is to come from the budget director's office," Donastorg said.
He cited three areas of grievance. First, he said, police supervisors should have received the first pay step of their last negotiated contract on Oct. 1, 1997. Second, negotiations should have begun at that time "for other wages and benefits." Third, he claimed he and other officers had become "scapegoats" for the Turnbull administration because he supported Schneider for governor last fall.
Joseph said police do not accept a lack of government funds as an acceptable excuse for the territory's failure to meet contract obligations.
"It just start," she said, "and it ain't finish."

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