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Labor Board decision details union president’s deal with Judicial Department

A decision handed down by the State Board of Labor Relations in January offers details of a stipulated agreement between the Connecticut Judicial Department and AFSCME Local 749, which led to Local 749’s former president, Charles Della Rocco, taking a year of union leave time.

Della Rocco signed a stipulated agreement with the Judicial Department allowing him full time union business leave while he campaigned for reelection as Local 749 president. In exchange, Local 749 and Della Rocco agreed to drop their grievances and complaints against the department.

Della Rocco was a police officer with the Connecticut Supreme Court. Della Rocco and Local 749 filed grievances and complaints against the department when the Supreme Court decided to switch from police officers to judicial marshals for court security.

The agreement, which was signed on October 11, 2018, offered Della Rocco full time union leave with pay and benefits until the results of his union election were determined, but not later than October 31, 2018. 

If Della Rocco won his reelection, he would be reassigned as a Juvenile Detention Transportation Officer and remain in the Local 749 bargaining unit. He would also be allowed to remain on full time union leave until October of 2019.

According to time sheets obtained under a Freedom of Information request, Della Rocco took 212 days of union leave between July 2018 and July 2019, with additional administrative leave time and vacation time. He received roughly $70,000 in salary and an additional $30,000 in benefits during that time.

However, Della Rocco and the union filed another complaint against the Judicial Department with the State Board of Labor Relations in December of 2018, claiming the department had misrepresented facts when negotiating the agreement because some officers transferred to the Supreme Court Judicial Marshals Service were allowed to maintain police officer titles.

“Specifically, Respondent has failed to bargain in good faith when negotiating the elimination of the [SCPD],” the union argued. “Subsequently it has come to the Union’s attention that the [Judicial Branch] has kept two officers as certified police officers with hazardous duty.”

However, State Board of Labor Relations found that, at all times, Della Rocco and the union were well aware of the deals made with other court officers and that the agreement resolved “all issues that were or could have been raised.”

“We find, however, that at all relevant times, the Union knew the alleged misinformation it received and relied on was false,” the board concluded. “Given the record before us, the Union’s claim that the October 11 agreement was the result of fraudulent inducement and therefore void presents no debatable issue and cause the State to incur expenses for no valid reason.”

The Labor Board noted that Della Rocco had assisted one of the officers in maintaining his police certification on a “continuing basis” and “admitted he was aware” of the officer’s continued status at the Supreme Court.

Local 749 was ordered to withdraw its additional charges and complaints against the Judicial Department and reimburse the state of Connecticut for attorney’s fees and costs associated with attending a Labor Board hearing in July of 2019.

Della Rocco took job as a State Animal Control Officer with the Department of Agriculture. His attempt to retain status as president of Local 749 was repudiated by an AFSCME International investigation.

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