Police union accuses UMass Amherst of potential payroll fraud, which university denies

  • A University of Massachusetts Amherst policeman leaves Pierpont Dorm. FILE PHOTO/JERREY ROBERTS

Staff Writer
Published: 11/16/2018 6:32:50 PM

AMHERST — As contract negotiations remain stalled between the University of Massachusetts and its police, the police union has accused the university of “potential payroll fraud” — a claim UMass Amherst denies.

The New England Police Benevolent Association, which represents UMass Amherst Police Department officers, have been in contact negotiations with the university since their last agreement expired July 1, 2017. Part of those negotiations revolve around five compensatory days of leave officers receive for trainings on defibrillators, Narcan and EpiPens. The union asserts that those days are awarded off the books, and are trying to change that arrangement.

“Union membership have asserted that the ‘off the books’ leave is awarded per an ‘unpublished side letter’ in their Collective Bargaining Agreement,” reads a statement from the president of the union’s local, Justin Green. “The fact that the leave is not recorded officially has caused officers out on injury leave status to lose the compensation totaling five days, or one week of pay.”

The union alleges that “potential payroll fraud” occurs because an officer using one of those five “unrecorded” days is listed as working when their hours are reported to the university. That is because the days are not recorded, so the university’s payroll department can not deduct them from an officer’s accrued leave.

A member of the police union declined an on-the-record interview on the subject when reached Friday.

UMass Amherst, for its part, has categorically denied the allegations of fraud.

“The issue of compensatory time has been an topic of bargaining in the ongoing negotiations between the university and the union and it is unfortunate that the union chooses to try to mislead the public on a specific contract provision that was a result of previous negotiations between the parties,” university spokeswoman Mary Dettloff said in a statement. “We look forward to wrapping up negotiations soon.”

A mediator was brought in on Oct. 29 as contract negotiations drag on between the two parties.

Dusty Christensen can be reached at dchristensen@gazettenet.com.
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