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No easy ‘solution’ to labor complaint BEHIND THE BYLINES Christopher J. Hughes

When news broke earlier this week about a labor complaint against the city of Scranton, putting Chief Dan Duffy in the middle on ongoing contract negotiations (or alleged lack thereof) between the Fraternal Order of Police and the administration, you could almost hear a collective “What?!” rise from homes from the Hill Section to North Scranton.

One thing became clear in preparing our articles on the topic this week: the complaint is NOT against Duffy.

As both sides have openly admitted, Duffy is a pawn in a political ploy by the police union to reach an agreement with the city and, perhaps more specifically, Scranton Mayor Chris Doherty.

Much like the “crime triangle” the chief has discussed in the past, there’s a central issue here surrounded by three parties.

In stark contrast to crime being surrounded by the victim, the location and the alleged criminal, the current union dispute puts negotiations into between the chief of police, the department’s union and the city administration.

Duffy has fought against the complaint as a perceived personal attack, but police union President Bob Martin said the department supports the proactive work of the chief. The argument falls under a reclassification of who’s in and who’s out as far as the union goes in line with a Dec. 2002 order that followed a petition from the city.

Surprisingly quiet in the discussion that occurred this week was the third side of the triangle – Mayor Doherty.

My efforts to reach the mayor on Thursday fell flat, perhaps a result of the Easter holiday. It seemed everyone but reporters were off on Friday.

Meanwhile, the complaint could be a public relations nightmare for a police department whose appointed leader has consistently recalled his roots as an officer first and as a previous member of the bargaining unit, all the while encouraging the public to become “part of the solution” against crime in the city.

Public support in favor of the chief has risen at a feverish pace – a nice place to be for someone who was thrown under the squad car.

Duffy has expressed fear that citizens will start to reconsider the relationships they’ve built with officers.

The union hopes to win the complaint but worries it will be yet another labor-related issue that they’ve already assumed will be ignored by the mayor.

Much like a pending Supreme Court decision that could cripple the city’s finances – Martin’s words, not mine – there will likely be no winner here.

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