Monday, January 10, 2022

Bethlehem Council Member Complains About Cops at a Picket Line

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.

34 comments:

Anonymous said...

She is part of the new radical progressive dem feminist cult elected to City government. Good luck!

Anonymous said...

Smith need s to stay out of the day to day police operations and attempt to be a half assed council member Chief Kott has everything under control..that is why She is one of finest Chiefs Bethlehem has ever had!!!

Anonymous said...

Wasn't it nice that she did her Channel 69 News interview from her office at Easton High School, where she was supposed to be doing her guidance counselor job. Glad the city of Easton residents are paying for her to do Bethlehem city council work.

Anonymous said...

As much as progressive pols love most unions and all their campaign money, they simply despise police and firefighter unions. There's a political union hierarchy that begins with teachers and public service unions well before private trades. Million dollar pro athletes come next. Police and firefighters are dead last.

Anonymous said...

Too many bad people in government.

joe said...

ABARTA should hire a private firm if they want armed protection for their scabs. Maybe the Pinkertons are available?

Anonymous said...

All-in-all, wouldn't you trust cops over soviet-style, forced-membership union thugs?

Anonymous said...

So says the tRump cultist @12:57!

Anonymous said...

I am sure their presence is there to protect people from union intimidation and violence.

Anonymous said...

we are in trouble

Anonymous said...

No fan of defunding, and I certainly think it's proactive of the bottling plant to have an officer at the location, BUT - I have a question.

While the pension and health care issues might be somewhat mitigated (depending on which officer gets the work), who is ultimately responsible liability-wise if something happens?

My guess is that the taxpayer (not the company) is on the hook for a lawsuit if anything happens and the officers are found to do anything beyond normal police work. That could obviously also happen if they were merely responding to an incident, but at least they might not be viewed as a participant when the incident occurs.

I don't know that I'm explaining that well, but you cited instances where things have gone very badly in the past. In today's environment, I hate to see the possibility of the police getting "egged on" into engaging in a conflict that might not occur if they weren't there, and/or treated as agents of the bottling company in a court proceeding.

Again, I'm not sure that I'm explaining my concern well, or if it even exists, but I'm hoping there's an answer that removes the taxpayers from any liability when police are hired by 3rd parties.

If the taxpayer is on the hook, my feeling is that if that companies need private security they should hire private security, and the City might want to revisit its policy of allowing officers to serve in that capacity.

Bernie O'Hare said...

"My guess is that the taxpayer (not the company) is on the hook for a lawsuit if anything happens and the officers are found to do anything beyond normal police work. That could obviously also happen if they were merely responding to an incident, but at least they might not be viewed as a participant when the incident occurs."

You seem to be suggesting that police and taxpayers are on the hook if crime occurs in one location bc police are at another. That is simply untrue. Also, off-duty police who are at Point A bc they are being paid to be there should relieve the burden of on-duty police. I would rather do that than allow a city to burn for fear of being sued.

If you are suggesting that police be held responsible for their own misconduct at Point A, you are correct. Yes, we ultimately foot that bill as we should.

"In the the absence of a special relationship between the police and the victim, such as that between the police and a witness, no jurisdiction recognizes liability of government or law enforcement officers for failure to prevent crime. Even in those jurisdictions that no longer honor blanket immunity and do not statutorily immunize police, the courts rely on the tort concept of duty to continue that immunity. However, courts do recognize the liability of police and government in cases where a special relationship does exist and have expanded to some degree the special relationship exception within the last two decades. Although section 1983 of the Civil Rights Act of 1871 would seem to allow a broad application of negligence liability, controversy surrounds that issue. The courts, in adhering to the no-duty rule, mask policy considerations, such as reluctance to interfere with executive discretion, and a fear of the financial impact of expanded liability. However, expanded liability is justified by the principle of loss spreading and simple fairness. Several alternative liability approaches exist, including crime victim compensation statutes, a gross negligence standard, and expansion of the special relationship doctrine. However, the professional standards model seems best suited for compromise. The model would allow violations of professional standards to create a cause for action under State tort law, thus allowing judicial scrutiny of most law enforcement decisionmaking while functioning within the traditional constraints of negligence law."

https://www.ojp.gov/ncjrs/virtual-library/abstracts/police-liability-negligent-failure-prevent-crime

Bernie O'Hare said...

"ABARTA should hire a private firm if they want armed protection for their scabs. Maybe the Pinkertons are available?"

Lol, I have no love for scabs and support the union in this struggle., But I also support the police union. A police presence protects the scabs, but it also protects those on the picket line.

Anonymous said...

Bernie O'Hare said: "If you are suggesting that police be held responsible for their own misconduct at Point A, you are correct. Yes, we ultimately foot that bill as we should."


Thanks for the info.

I WAS referring to the second scenario you cite, and agree that the police should be held responsible for their own misconduct.

Where I part ways, however, is putting the taxpayers on the hook for what is essentially a private security job. While I get that they're being paid through the city payroll and the city is being reimbursed (so no direct payment to the officers), I think there's an obvious conflict that develops when their extra job is being paid for by a third party.

Beyond that, I don't think it's prudent, particularly in today's anti-police environment, to put officers in harm's way beyond what is necessary or in the normal course of their business.

I get that it's a good gig for the company, and for the officers getting the extra pay.

But the taxpayers pay for a police force to respond to crime and keep the general peace, not to supply private security to businesses and then have the taxpayers serve as a liability backstop for those businesses if something goes wrong. As a taxpayer, I don't want to be viewed as the deep pockets in what is essentially a private employee-business dispute.

Anonymous said...

Bernie what makes you think that police officers still don’t work for the ruling class, and that they don’t kill people?

Let’s not fool ourselves here.

Anonymous said...

Bernie, But if the polices are there in anything resembling their official uniform even if off duty they are thereby assumed to be acting in an official capacity thereby putting the burden on the tax payers. In uniform is a presumption of on duty. If they even flash their badge then it is a presumption of being in effect a usage of their on duty powers and thereby creating a liability for the tax payer.

This has been a gray zone problem for years which has caused many problems for the taxpayer and the cops themselves.

Anonymous said...

When county of Lehigh had union issues they never had police involvement except if necessary. Private company. Private security. The police have more important things to do in an already stressed environment. Those on the picket lines if they cause an issue it's on them. Those not deserve private funded security.

Anonymous said...

It seems that some advocate no protection for private companies from violence. They deserve protection just as any one else.

Anonymous said...

why is it when a union cant come to an agreement on a new contract that a company cant negotiate with another union or group of workers? It just doesn't sound right to me.

Anonymous said...

Private armed security pre-dates official policing in this country. It's staging a strong comeback among the well-heeled, who may be OK with defunding your police because they can afford their own. Let the company pay private security to insure taxpayers aren't on the hook for any injuries, or conduct by officers not on actual city duty. Paying wages doesn't cover the full cost of using officers. I'm not trying to jam up cops. I just don't think taxpayers should have any exposure. Zero.

Anonymous said...

So, if the union hall is under assault by protesters and the personnel are being harassed and intimidated. Does not the union hall have the right to call the police?

Anonymous said...

Democrats now and forever...

Anonymous said...

Vote with your feet. If these drivers and workers cannot find work they are not trying. Haulers are now dictating their terms. The great resignation has done more to raise pay than any politician or union. It's a brave new world, folks. crampie smith will have a tough time seeing that from her union protected seat. She is in the weeds on this one.

Anonymous said...

You readers have a right to be concerned. If a police officer gets hurt while working a private gig such as the Coco Cola site, who is responsible? Also if he winds up on workers comp, who pays for the over time to replace him in his job with the city. There are a hundred questions that are unanswered here and the I feel your fears are right. The answer is in the taxpayers wallet.

Carl said...

The officer is there with a Bethlehem police suv.

Anonymous said...

We are all worried about this but what are the union and the company fighting over? It is something to do with the contract but what specifics?

Anonymous said...

I have only seen the union harassing others. The union does the intimidating. Unionize and that's what can happen

Bernie O'Hare said...

If they are dealing with scabs who attempt to take away their livelihoods, I don't blame them, so long as the harassment is lawful.

Anonymous said...

Benefits and pay.

Anonymous said...

I beg to differ. I don't think the "scabs" are trying to take away the union workers livelihoods. Probably closer to trying to feed their family and pay the bills. What seems more realistic?, a "scab" waking up saying, "I'm going to screw that union guy our of his livelihood today" or "I'm glad I have work today".
I don't think there is a bench of scab workers sitting around waiting for their corporate overlords to put them in the game.

I do have a suspicion that all the comments concerning labiality are and argument from the union. Pure speculation, but the shoe does fit.

Anonymous said...

She is right. Pay is not the issue th liability is the issue. The cop gets hurt and stays out of work for months it is th city taxpayer on the hook. You know that but still you attack Ms. Cramsie. Too bad she is not the ex-mayor then she would get a pass on anything. You hate legislators and love your authoritarians, don't you?

Anonymous said...

Here is what I found as the just of the problem. Workers were upset over company switching health care plans and switching employees from a pension to a 401(k) retirement-planning account.

I am not sure about anyone else reading this blog but I know health care plans seem to change regularly anymore unless you are in the publics sector. Also these people are very short sighted in their demand to keep a pension. Just ask the previous employees of Bethlehem Steel as to what they think about their pension plan after the company went out of business and their pension plan had to be saved by the tax payers.

Anonymous said...

Can't remember the last time I heard a good story about a pension. Most are underfunded and have as much or more risk than a 401k. I think the difference is a pension will be bailed out by taxpayers. The Steel pension was only pennies on the dollar but it was bailed out. My Grandfather worked at The Steel and despised the Union. He didn't live to see it's collapse but certainly saw it coming.

VAN A SCOTT SR said...

It always amazes me when someone starts out with, "I received many calls from my constituents". We all know that "constituents" are more that likely the union that endorsed and her more than likely gave her a donation while she was running for City Council. Open mouth insert foot. She obviously did not do her homework on this issue. Shame on her.

As Chief Kott explained in her very good brief in front of City Council. The City of Bethlehem Police Officer that are working extra jobs, are working on their on time. The company pays the city of Bethlehem and some of the money goes to the city for the insurance that covers the officer and city. None of that money equates in the Officers pension.

Prior to the Bethlehem Police Officer working that roster, there were many calls/complaints to the Dept. There were reports of unruly Union employees flashing red laser beams in the faces of drivers and standing in the roadway blocking traffic, causing safety issues. Those calls resulted in the police arriving with sometimes 2 to 3 patrol vehicles. Who is paying for that service? Obviously the taxpayers. Taking several officers of off the street while dealing with a union/company safety issues is totally counterproductive.

Keep in mind the officer are/were there for safety and officers presence, not to be security guards. I believe since they started, there has not been other issues with the union or the company. Who are we to deny a company or whomever the right to have a paid officer be present for civil and safety reasons?

Next time a politician mentions "constituents" it means the people who are supporting then and possible giving that candidate donations.