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MIT, CPA Continue Dispute

Excess Overtime an Issue of Contention

By Mike Hall

The prolonged dispute between MIT and the Campus Police Association shows no sign of resolution, with both sides entrenched and unwilling to compromise.

The conflict over scheduling, benefits and staffing entered its fifteenth month in September.

“We are not convinced that MIT is prepared to close the gap,” said Alan McDonald of McDonald and Associates, representatives for the Association.

Quick resolution unlikely

Compromise between the Association and the Institute is growing increasingly unlikely, as both sides prepare for an extended battle.

Later this week, results will be released of an Association poll judging its members’ view of the Institute’s willingness to resolve the conflict.

On October 7, both sides will meet with a federal mediator. Meetings to this point have resulted in little compromise from either side.

Since the Campus Police are private sector employees, a strike is an available option. While both sides hope to avoid a strike, the Association’s good-faith vote could be the first step towards a walkout.

Excessive overtime draws ire

Involuntary overtime remains a key issue of contention between the administration and the Association. Currently, officers are called to work during “off-hours” to fill staffing needs.

McDonald complained that “MIT continues to rely on overtime rather than fully staffing the department.” The Association is demanding that MIT restrict call-ins to emergencies.

David B. Achenbach, manager of labor relations for the Institute, maintains that MIT needs “a certain security presence available” at all times. Under the Institute’s current contract proposal, any officer working overtime -- either voluntary or involuntary -- would move to the bottom of the overtime-eligible list. The plan is designed to distribute involuntary overtime fairly among officers.

The Institute also proposes expanding the number of officers in each watch group in an attempt to diminish the need for involuntary overtime.

Continuing education contentious

The Association also has demanded additional benefits for officers who further their education. Currently, MIT provides $5,250 per employee for the pursuit of higher education.

The proposed benefits package follows recommendations from the Massachusetts Police Accreditation Commission to reward officers who complete college-level courses. Harvard University is one of the few local colleges implementing such a plan.

“MIT sees no correlation between education and quality of work,” McDonald stated, suggesting that MIT wants to avoid spending more on its policemen. MIT should provide additional time and funding for increased officer training, McDonald argued, because the Institute benefits most from the education.

“[Officers] already receive the same benefit as every other MIT employee,” Achenbach countered. He also said that MIT already gives the maximum untaxable educational allowance to its employees seeking a first undergraduate degree.

Boston patrol, EMT pay disputed

The Institute’s call for Boston patrols also has increased friction between the two factions. Following the death of Scott S. Krueger ’01, the Institute proposed that the CPs patrol all MIT fraternities to control drinking.

Achenbach contended that the Campus Police has an obligation to protect all MIT students, whether living on campus or in Boston. Achenbach also criticized the Association for opposing the Institute’s efforts to deputize CPs in Suffolk County.

McDonald countered that the Institute’s demands would expose CPs to a more dangerous environment than assumed upon joining the force.

Increased benefits for EMT training also remains an unresolved issue. In addition to their police duties, MIT CPs also serve as EMTs and can provide medical assistance that other college police forces cannot provide.

“[MIT] loves the fact that they have EMTs...they just don’t want to pay for it,” McDonald contended. Currently, CPs receive an additional $0.65 per hour for serving as EMTs, which amounts to less than five percent of an officer’s total pay.