ST. CROIX — The Police Benevolent Association of St. Croix, a union representing police officers in the U.S. Virgin Islands, has issued a vote of no confidence resolution in the Mapp administration, harshly criticizing the government on a number of grievances.
The resolution says the vote of no confidence was issued to “bring forth to the public the serious concerns about public safety, union busting, and poor treatment of police officers, police detectives, and police corporals.”
It says the Government of the Virgin Islands “is in violation of the current collective bargaining agreement, which provides for annual step increases to the members of the association, among other violations of the conditions of employment contained in the collective bargaining agreement.”
The union condemned the government for allegedly not paying police officers overtime for several weeks, and stated that the “mistreatment” from the current administration resulted in “overworked and grossly underpaid officers.”
The resolution goes on to say that officers left the territory because of the poor working conditions, including being dangerously understaffed in St. Thomas.
The criticism comes just days before the November 6 general election, where campaigns are working overtime to fend off negative press and to contain news perceived to be damaging to their teams.
The Mapp administration has been intentional in its efforts to recruit new officers, and has had multiple events graduating new cadets. It also raised the base pay of police officers to over $40,000 annually, a move the administration said would increase police recruitment.
But the union described those raises as an insult, contending that the action violated the collective bargaining process. The union said while the base pay for entry level officers was increased, there was no comparable increase to senior officers. The Mapp administration has said that negotiations with unions would continue unharmed by the recent base salary increases.
And even though the Office of Collective Bargaining invited the Police Benevolent Association Union to the table since July, the resolution relegated the invitation as a “political ploy to further the reelection of the governor of the Virgin Islands, as the administration refuses to negotiate a successor agreement, but rather uses stall tactics to include repeated cancellations of negotiations.”
“The tactic of the current administration is not only disrespectful to the members of the association, but harmful to the community as the administration has not addressed a myriad of issues related to the employment of the members, which has resulted in low morale and understaffing of the Virgin Islands Police Department,” the vote of no confidence resolution contends.
The group demanded a meeting no later than November 1 with Governor Kenneth Mapp, to address what the union described as the administration’s “unlawful pay increases to entry level officers only, continuous and unacceptable disrespect by the chief negotiator, and the conditions of employment that have not been addressed by its negotiating team.”
The union also authorized its members “to take whatever legal action necessary to address the bad faith negotiation tactics and unlawful and union-busting conduct associated with the unlawful pay increases to entry level officers.”