Frustrated that management has not responded to its concerns, the Capitol Police union intends to ask Capitol Division officers to take a vote of no confidence against their supervisors.
It would be the first such vote in the almost 14 years since Capitol Police unionized, according to Capitol Police Labor Committee President Jim Konczos.
The union would only poll officers in the Capitol Division, where Konczos said the bulk of the issues exist. He alleges that supervisors with the ranks of captain and inspector are creating and enforcing their own directives without consistency or consultation with management, ordering officers to report for duty in unsafe working conditions and mishandling time-off requests covered under the Family and Medical Leave Act.
Konczos said he has spoken repeatedly with Acting Chief Tom Reynolds about these issues over the past few months and informed him Friday about the possible union action.
“Unions typically don’t hold no-confidence votes. … It’s a last resort,” Konczos said. “But I told [Reynolds], ‘I can’t keep rehashing everything. Nothing’s changed.’”
The Labor Committee’s executive board is in the early planning stages of scheduling the no-confidence vote, which will either take place online or via secret ballot and likely involve a series of questions relating to Capitol Division supervisors’ practices.
Senate Sergeant-at-Arms Terrance Gainer said he had been briefed on the union’s intentions and hoped the vote could be averted. He also said that management is putting in a good faith effort to respond to the union’s concerns, even as Konczos insists that myriad calls for action have gone unanswered.
“Communication is very important, and I think there’s a disconnect here, and maybe even systemic issues here that we’ve got to work through. But I know we can work through these things,” said Gainer, a former Capitol Police chief. “The department command feels they are working through them, and the officers in the union feel they are not or they are not getting to the resolution quickly enough, and those things, these polar positions, have to meet someplace in the middle.”
Capitol Police spokeswoman Lt. Kimberly Schneider also suggested management would continue to seek common ground with the union.
“Acting Chief Reynolds values the cooperative relationship with the union. The department has the utmost confidence in its commanders, officers and employees, [and Reynolds] continues to work with the union on workplace matters,” she said.
A vote of no confidence that implicates Capitol Police supervisors with misconduct or mismanagement would not have any enforcement effect. It would, however, be an embarrassment for management, especially during the final round of interviews for a new Capitol Police chief to replace Phillip Morse, who resigned earlier this year.
It would also catch the attention of the Capitol Police Board and Congressional oversight committees, which is what happened the last time the union considered a no-confidence vote on top brass.
Rep. Elijah Cummings, D-Md., right, hugs Harold Schaitberger, General President of the International Association of Fire Fighters, after the Congressman spoke at the IAFF's Legislative Conference General Session at the Hyatt Regency on Capitol Hill, March 9, 2015. The day featured addresses by members of Congress and Vice President Joe Biden.