Thursday, February 27, 2014


Jan Seilhamer, president of the union representing Rockville's city police officers, formally requested the mayor and council grant officers collective bargaining rights, at Monday evening's regular council meeting.

A few weeks ago, Seilhamer testified that the city's continued failure to reinstate salary step increases had left police force morale "at an all-time low." At that time, she presented the report of a forensic accountant, who concluded the city could afford to resume step increases immediately.

With no progress since that Community Forum appearance, Seilhamer returned with a formal petition requesting the mayor and council amend the city's charter to give police officers collective bargaining rights. Seilhamer said the city's public works employees already have such rights, which would include non-binding arbitration.

After outlining many months of delays and poor communication with the city, Seilhamer said the union has recently learned that its previous requests to the mayor and council were never even delivered to those elected officials by city staff. She also cited the city's own employee policy, which states on page 14, that step increases are to be based on "employee performance and availability of funding." Since the former has been outstanding, and the latter proven to be true, Seilhamer said it is clear that "the city is not bargaining in good faith."

The police union, FOP Lodge 117, has retained a lawyer, Pat McAndrew. McAndrew also spoke at Monday night's meeting, and presented a draft charter amendment. "The system in place now is broken," McAndrew concluded. Noting that Bowie, Frederick and Greenbelt are among nearby cities that have granted collective bargaining rights to their police officers, McAndrew asked the mayor and council to  “recognize what the officers in the Rockvile police department contribute to this community.”

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