Apparently abandoned by the police union they founded, the seven part-time town police officers fired in December have taken legal steps in an effort to get their jobs back.
Town officials said they let the part-timers go and replaced them with three new full-time officers (who were not from the union) to move toward a more full-time Police Department.
As union members, the former officers brought an improper-labor-practices case against the town last December. Now, they have filed a motion to intervene with the state Public Employment Relations Board, according to PERB officials.
The motion is to be presented to PERB Administrative Law Judge Adam D. Kaufman on Monday during a conference with town officials and Larry Lindsay, the attorney representing the fired officers. Kaufman said he will study the matter and make a decision in the near future.
Six of the former officers also have filed a notice of claim that will allow them to sue the town in State Supreme Court to try to get their jobs back. The move provides the officers with an alternative if PERB does not allow them to intervene in their own behalf in the improper-practices case.
The ex-officers -- former Lewiston Police Benevolent Association president Les Kachurek and former union treasurer Mark Beebe, who founded the union, and Ellis Delahoy, Michael Townsend, Barry Melton, Anthony Soluri Jr. and Robert Lynch -- say town officials replaced them with full-time officers to weaken, destroy or gain influence over the union and to avoid having a union contract imposed through binding arbitration, which is to begin this year.
Kachurek contends that town officials hired three people who were not in the union to radically change the union membership.
"If the former officers feel picked on," current union president Frank Previte said, "they have every right to fight back.
"I never heard of a union ever fighting to get rid of full-time positions in lieu of going back to part-time positions. That's insane. A union always want full-time positions so the jobs are more permanent and its members can get benefits like holiday pay, vacations and sick time. With part-time jobs, you don't get that stuff."
He said that this was why he did not join the union when he was hired last November.
In the motion to intervene, Kachurek contends that the town changed the union's makeup intentionally to undermine the efforts of the union's former members.
"Our interests are not shared (and are in conflict) with the current (union) membership, and we should be able to intervene," the motion papers state.