Stamford police choose new union leader to hammer out long-awaited contract

Stamford PA President Sean Boeger

STAMFORD — Unable to come to terms with the city over a new contract, Stamford police officers have elected a new union president, their second since 2013.

At the close of polling Tuesday, a heavy turnout by the 276-memberStamford Police Association chose major crimes investigator Sean Boeger over two-term union President Todd Lobraico by a wide margin.

Boeger, an 18-year member of the department, earned 168 votes to Lobraico’s 58. A second challenger for the job, John Buehler, garnered 18 votes.

Chris Gioielli, the union’s sitting vice president, defeated challenger Joseph Rainone 208 votes to 36.

City police officers are beginning their fifth year without a contract, a factor that weighed heavily in the rank-and-file’s decision to change their top leadership.

Veteran Sgt. Peter DiSpagna said there was a “high level” of frustration over the stalemated contract negotiations.

“The vote reflects the thinking of the membership that change will improve the situation,” he said. “Whether it does or not remains to be seen.”

DiSpagna said Lobraico did a good job as president, but officers found themselves in a difficult position.

“He is just a causality of the situation,” diSpagna said of Lobraico. “We just have to hope that Sean Boeger does a good job and he is up to it. I wish him the best of luck.”

Boeger, 39, said he would first and foremost try to come up with a contract beneficial to his membership, and put an end to lengthy negotiations that have produced little movement since the calendar year began.

“I ran for union president with the hope of being able to finally come to an agreement over our long standing lack of a contract with the city,” Boeger said. “This is my primary goal, and will be the daily task to work on through my administration. I am honored that my fellow union members have trusted me with this responsibility.”

“I realize that that these days, there seems to be a lot of negativity being ”portrayed against the labor force on a national scale,” he said. “Being a police officer is not exactly the most popular and easy job in this climate either. I feel that I need to stand up for my fellow union members and remind everyone that it was the labor unions of this great country that made or middle class strong. We need to support labor unions, not attack them.”

Lobraico declined comment.

When the last contract extension was settled in June 2009, the union agreed to halve its clothing allowance for one of the contract’s two years, give up two personal days for each officer and pay more toward medical insurance. One of those personal days was later returned to the officers.

Under the threat of about 20 police layoffs, the contract also provided a 2 percent raise per year, rather than 3 percent. Wages have been stagnant without a new contract, though a new agreement could include retroactive pay raises for all or some of the intervening years.

Police and city officials are not publicly discussing what issues are holding up the adoption of a contract. City Corporation Counsel Kathryn Emmett would only say that negotiations were ongoing.

Boeger’s first day in his new position ended with an hours-long meeting with Mayor David Martin.

”“I think we both left feeling that it was promising,” Boeger said. “I look forward to settling this contract with him. I am confident we can strike a fair balance for the citizens we serve.“

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