The City of Boston will pay $16.5 million to Boston police officers to settle a 16-year-old labor dispute over protective services at public housing developments.
The award covers a nine-year period ending in 2003 in which members of the now-defunct Boston Municipal Police Department were assigned to properties owned by the Boston Housing Authority. The state Division of Labor ruled that work there legally belonged to the Boston Police Patrolmen's Association.
"It's a fair conclusion to a long, outstanding legal dispute," said Thomas J. Nee, president of the Boston Police Patrolmen's Association. "We're glad it's behind us."
The settlement will pay $1.8 million per year to cover wages that should have been earned by members of the patrolmen's union from 1994 to 2003. The money will be divided between 2,000 to 2,500 current and former officers from the patrolmen's union who worked during that period.
"This has been an open-ended issue for the City for a long time and it was important to bring it to closure," said John Dunlap, the city's director of labor relations.
The settlement came as part of a stipulated award issued by the state Division of Labor Relations on Friday. After first filing suit in 1994, the union initially won the case in 1996 when a hearing officer ruled on their behalf. The city appealed the decision all the way to the state Supreme Judicial Court, which declined in 2003 to take the case.
When the city exhausted its legal appeals, it removed municipal police officers from housing authority properties, giving the work to patrolman. The Municipal Police Department was completely eliminated in January 2007, which will prevent similar labor disputes from arising in the future, Dunlap said.
The $16.5 million will not come from the current city budget because officials anticipated a settlement and put money aside in previous years to pay the award, official said.
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