Facing tough labour talks, mayor says he was threatened by police union
Published Friday, February 22, 2013 1:58PM EST
Last Updated Friday, February 22, 2013 7:08PM EST
MONTREAL—Contract negotiations between the City of Montreal and the Police Brotherhood appeared to be going poorly before Mayor Michael Applebaum held a news conference Friday, that’s when things took a shocking turn.
A frustrated Applebaum revealed Friday that he had been threatened by Yves Francoeur, the head of the police union. In an email shown to the press, Francoeur presented the mayor with an ultimatum: back down from a plan to end a three-day workweek for the force, or prepare to have your reputation as mayor sullied.
The shorter workweek was a year-old pilot project by the city that is set to end on March 20.
Applebaum also claimed that he was called Friday morning by Francouer and warned to personally intervene in the labour dispute or face protesting police officers and “personal attacks” in the media.
Francoeur denies the allegations; Applebaum says he will not give in to threats.
“Never in my life have I ever accepted to be pushed around and I won't accept it today, by anybody. Even if it's by the head of the Police Brotherhood,” said the mayor, who took office in November.
“He said very clearly it is not the administrators or the bureaucrats that he will attack, it will be me personally, as the mayor of Montreal.”
At a hastily-scheduled press conference on Friday afternoon, Francoeur vehemently denied making any threats.
“Absolutely no threats,” said Francoeur. “It is not the word that I used, if there was an ultimatum, it’s because I wanted an answer.”
An imposing union boss, Francoeur said he was forceful with Applebaum because police officers are furious. Scrapped because it has been deemed too costly and difficult to manage, cops had grown used to three-day workweeks.
After Tuesday’s strong raids on city hall by Quebec’s permanent anti-corruption squad, it was clear that the mayor wanted to strike first.
“Maybe he thinks that after what has happened I am weakened, but I'm not weakened and I will not budge,” said the mayor.
Applebaum was met by detectives from the Surete du Quebec on Tuesday, but he himself is not under investigation.
While Francoeur is demanding Applebaum retract his accusations, this is looks more like another labour dispute at the city getting ugly and perhaps a bit too personal.
Montreal Mayor Michael Applebaum speaks to reporters at a news conference at City Hall in Montreal Friday, February 22, 2013. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Graham Hughes.