The Chief
May 23, 2003

Judge: Transfer Anti-Union

Hurt PBA Candidate

By Richard Steier

A Manhattan Supreme Court Justice has found “reasonable cause” to believe that the NYPD committed an improper labor practice when it transferred a Patrolmen’s Benevolent Association delegate because his precinct Captain deemed him a negative influence.

Justice Deborah A. James issued a preliminary injunction requiring that PBA delegate Joe Anthony be returned to the 50th Precinct in The Bronx pending the outcome of the union’s improper practice case before the city’s Board of Collective Bargaining. She also directed that the BCB issue an expedited ruling on the matter.

City Appeals

City attorneys, however, filed an appeal of the ruling May 12, gaining an automatic stay of the judge’s order pending a decision by the Appellate Division of State Supreme Court. At presstime May 19, the BCB hearing had not yet been held.

PBA lawyers argued that there was urgency in having the matter decided quickly because Police Officer Anthony is running for Bronx trustee on a slate headed by incumbent President Patrick J. Lynch in an election process that began last week. They contended that not having Mr. Anthony serving as the delegate in the precinct where he was elected to serve could undercut his campaign for higher office.

The city countered that because Officer Anthony is now assigned to the Bronx Detective Bureau – after two earlier transfers outside the borough following his transfer three months ago – his ability to campaign for borough trustee has not been diminished. But Justice James said that his “presence with-in the borough does not remedy the damage …His absence from the precinct certainly undermines his ability to represent those members” and thus weakened his candidacy.

Link to Trustee Run?

The union contends there is a direct connection between the decision by Mr. Lynch on Feb. 24 to choose Officer Anthony as his candidate for Bronx trustee and his transfer a day later.

The transfer had actually been in the works for several weeks before that. A Feb. 3 memorandum from 50th Precinct Lieut. Robert Lee that was introduced as evidence in the court proceeding noted that Capt. Thomas DiRusso wanted Officer Anthony transferred “based on the fact that he is a PBA Delegate with influence over the other officers in his command, which he uses negatively.”

At the time, Officer Anthony was the only PBA delegate assigned to the 4 p.m. to 12 a.m. shift at the 50th Precinct. The day after he was designated as the incumbent slate’s candidate for Bronx trustee, he was transferred to the 106th Precinct in Ozone Park, Queens. Justice James stated that although the memorandum by Lieutenant Lee was written prior to Officer Anthony’s selective by Mr. Lynch, a memo written by Captain DiRusso the previous November showed that he knew back then that Officer Anthony planned to run for Bronx trustee.

Union Activity Protected

The PBA alleges that the transfer violated the section of the city’s Administrative Code that prohibits city officials from interfering with public employees engaging in activities protected under their union contract and the Collective Bargaining Law.

Captain’s Endowment Association President John F. Driscoll said Captain DiRusso would have no comment while the case is pending.

Two days after the transfer, Officer Anthony while off duty returned to the 50th Precinct and became embroiled in a dispute with an unidentified supervisor. As a result, he received a two-week suspension and was placed on modified assignment for allegedly being insubordinate and discourteous. When his suspension was completed, he was transferred from the 106th Precinct to the Quartermaster Division, which is also in Queens. A month later, on April 14, he was shifted to the Detective Bureau in The Bronx, where he remains.

By that time, the BCB had issued a preliminary ruling that there was reasonable cause to conclude that the transfer constituted an unfair labor practice, and granted Officer Anthony the right to seek a court injunction until a final ruling could be issued by the board.