There's currently a strike at the Coca Cola bottling plant in Bethlehem. Teamsters Local 773 have called the strike over proposed changes to retirement and health care benefits. Given the current shortage of qualified truck drivers, this is clearly a short-sighted move by ABARTA, the Pittsburgh-based company calling the shots at this bottling plant. In addition to trying to impose a reduction when there;'s a shortage of qualified labor, the company men have also called on cops to ease tensions that are going to escalate when we bring in scabs.
In the past, police have often served as thugs for the ruling class. Striking workers have been killed, even in Bethlehem. But just as obviously, a visible police presence can also serve as a deterrent.
Bethlehem City Council VP Grace Crampsie Smith, who had no problem voting for a budget that reduced the city's public safety workers, is questioning the wisdom of a police presence, Her concerns appear to be just as myopic and as ill-timed as ABARTA's attempt to screw its workforce.
Crampise Smith is pandering to the Teanmsters, but is forgetting there's another union in this picture, FOPStar Lodge #20 represents Bethlehem police officers, and has distributed an email to counter the red herrings and outright misinformation from Crampise Smith.
In response to a recent news story about the presence of Bethlehem Police Officers at the Coca-Cola facility. The story quotes City Council members who claimed constituents had concerns with police presence at the Coca-Cola facility in the City of Bethlehem. Chief Kott explained why an officer is assigned there and what the officer’s role is while assigned to the Coca-Cola facility.
The City Administration and Police Department have a long-standing policy that allows private businesses to contract and pay for police services. The assigned officer’s wages are paid by the business directly to the city. That assigned officer is not pulled from a shift to cover extra-duty assignments and would otherwise be off-duty.
In 2012, FOP Star Lodge #20 agreed to a contract in which extra-duty assignments would no longer be calculated towards the pensions of officers hired after 2012. We have reached a point where post-2012 officers make up a majority of our officers. In that same 2012 contract, Star Lodge #20 agreed to a Healthcare package in which Bethlehem officers pay the highest health-care contributions of the police departments in the Lehigh Valley.
When Police Officers are constantly villainized by the most privileged members of our society, the officers of Star Lodge #20 still take the greatest pride in serving our community and keeping Bethlehem safe. It is disheartening that even with the exemplary service to its citizens, our officers are again under attack. Rather than stand up to announce Bethlehem Police Department as one of the best departments in Pennsylvania, Council Member Crampsie-Smith questioned the impartiality of our officers working at the Coca-Cola facility. All in the same breath, Crampsie-Smith followed-up with an ambush of our retirement earnings. The cruelest part of it is, Council Member Crampsie-Smith proclaims it under the guise of “daughter of a police chief”.
In order to pander to one union, Crampsie Smith has thrown another under the bus. Or perhaps it's a truck. It's something she has done before. Just ask firefighters.