NEW BEDFORD — Mayor Jon Mitchell is responding to allegations made by the New Bedford Police Union that he and Police Chief Joseph Cordeiro purposely tried to influence an independent study of the department.

The union has filed a Charge of Prohibited Practice against the City of New Bedford with the Massachusetts Department of Labor (DLR).

On Friday morning, the union posted a statement to Facebook that the Mayor and Chief Cordeiro influenced the taxpayer funded study to gain an unfair advantage in contract negotiations. In the post, the union said it had obtained emails between the Mayor and Chief through a Freedom of Information Act request that proves the intent to influence the internal review.

Mayor Mitchell tells WBSM News that the City intends to move to dismiss the charge. The Mayor adds that the union had rejected a July offer from the City.

“The City is engaged in negotiations with the leadership of the New Bedford Police Union for a new contract that would fairly compensate New Bedford’s police officers. The City is committed to negotiating a contract that benefits officers and taxpayers alike. On July 12, 2019, the union leadership rejected an increase similar to the one the teachers’ union recently accepted, along with additional compensation paid to police officers with college degrees and an increase in the hourly rate for police details,” said Mayor Mitchell.

“Although the union’s leadership rejected the July offer, the City has tried to continue negotiations as recently as yesterday, August 8. That evening, the City learned on social media that the Union had filed an unfair labor charge against the City. The charge is as frivolous as it is unfortunate. The City will move to dismiss the charge and will continue to bargain in good faith with the Police Union in the hopes that an agreement can be reached.”

In the post announcing the intent to file against the City, New Bedford Police Union President Hank Turgeon said he was “personally insulted and infuriated” at the alleged actions of the Mayor and Chief.

In the complaint, Turgeon says “the Police Chief and/or Mayor dictated and tailored the content of the ‘independent study’ to bolster and influence the City’s position in negotiations for a successor collective bargaining agreement.” The complaint goes on to state that the City engaged in bad faith negotiations.

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