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Police group, Cary at odds over group's classification

Posted September 24, 2009

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— The North Carolina Police Benevolent Association says it feels it's getting stonewalled in Cary, because the town's manager refuses to meet with the group.

Out of Cary's 167 police officers, more than 130 are members of the PBA, which works to promote and improve the law enforcement profession.

The PBA meets with town and city managers in other municipalities to bring forth concerns of its members.

Cary Town Manager Ben Shivar, however, says he considers the group a union, and that he does not meet with union representatives.

"North Carolina state law prevents contract agreements with union representatives, and that we take very seriously," Shivar said.

But PBA Executive Director John Midgette says the group is a non-union professional trade association that does not do any collective bargaining and has every right to free speech and association.

"To deny our ability to meet with him about these matters is not only repugnant on it's face, but it just flies in the face of everything that is proper, right and legal, as well," Midgette said.

Even if it were a union, Midgette said there is no law that prohibits the town manager to meet with the group. The law Shivar is referring to, he said, has been repealed as unconstitutional.

As a group, PBA has concerns it wants to discuss with Shivar – such as a shared sick-leave program and a retirement policy it believes is in violation of a new state law.

The group, instead, meets with Town Council members about its concerns. Recently, the Council approved staff reviewing the shared sick-leave program.

"We're talking about making suggestions, recommendations, bring up matters of importance that the manager can either act or not act on," Midgette said.

Shivar said he considers the PBA a union because it is linked to the Southern State chapter of the Police Benevolent Association, which he understands to be a union.

He said he also has concerns that meeting with the PBA could send the wrong message to other employees that they have to join a group in order to be heard.

"Recognizing and talking to union reps will tend to divide the organization," he said. "Our preference is to talk with employees as employees."

Shivar said any officer – as an employee – can voice his or her concerns to a supervisor, the town's police chief or him directly.

He also said the town has an organizational improvement committee that takes suggestions from employees to improve the workplace environment.

Shivar – whose predecessor Bill Coleman also never met with the group – said Cary's long-standing policy to resolve employee issues individually "has produced one of the healthiest, public service organizations in North Carolina, probably in the southeast, and the nation," he said. "We believe it is best to proceed the way we do."


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  • FromClayton Sep 25, 2009

    all i know is cary can keep their town manager. Clayton town manager meets with me whenever I need to. We may not always (usually dont) see eye to eye, but he always hears me out in a respectful way. So he at least has that over the cary guy... but i woudl expect no less.

  • whateveryousay Sep 25, 2009

    This would be news if it were in any other city/town. But this is in CARY. So, pretty much what you expect.

  • TrentRage Sep 24, 2009

    What Shivar won't tell you is that Cary is part of the League of Municipalities, and follows their "suggestions" to the T. The League of Municipalities is basically a union for municipalities....complete with dues, etc. Whether or not the PBA is a union isn't the point. Like the article said, it is no longer illegal for towns and cities to talk to unions.

    Ben Shivar is just like Coleman was. People like him are the reason why a great Chief like Scott Cunningham.....who all the officers loved.....was asked to leave. One day crime will hit the town, and the managers currently in place will be ill-equipped to deal with REAL problems.

  • B Real Sep 24, 2009

    So wait, the police assoc. is going to RAL to get its agenda publicity? I thought all the LEO's hated RAL for the NCSHP email story and their bad slant toward LEO's Hmmmm ironic!

  • IzzMad2016 Sep 24, 2009

    "The Southern States Police Benevolent Association, Inc. is composed of more than 20,000 law enforcement officers employed by federal, state, county and municipal governments. This professional association, funded by membership dues and citizen contributions, provides legal, disciplinary and other representation to officers who are members."

    They say they are not a union (and may well not be), but they seem to act an awful like a union. Jussayin'

  • Stringbean Sep 24, 2009

    Cary Town Council not playing nice?....lol....no way!

  • wtliftr Sep 24, 2009

    Fragment, I was thinking n the same lines...
    I can't wait for this show!
    Of course, it was in CARY...

  • FragmentFour Sep 24, 2009

    Well, Cary's managers will either learn to deal with professional groups like this one, or deal with the attorneys and repercussions. It may not happen right away, but I sure hope I'm going to be around to enjoy it when it does. And it will.

  • Alabama01 Sep 24, 2009

    Once again a town official that doesn't know SQUAT about the LAW! Fire the Non-Thinkers!