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By October 31, 2014 Read More →

News Roundup

Submitted by Ron DeLord


Deputy union contract headed for binding arbitration

In Ohio, a second Butler County sheriff’s union is headed for binding arbitration after the county commissioners rejected a fact finder’s recommendation for a 2.5 percent increase rather than performance pay. It took the commissioners less than five minutes behind closed doors Thursday to reject State Employment Relations Board fact finder Felicia Bernardini’s proposal. Union President Sgt. Jeff Gebhart said the union members have cast ballots but the votes haven’t been tallied yet. His sense is the deputies approved Bernardini’s recommendation.

“We thought that the deputies’ fact finder report is a very fair report,” he said. “We basically have been looking to keep up with inflation, we’re not really asking for raises. We need the same money in the following year that we had the previous year. But if we don’t receive any raises or anything, inflation just keeps eating away at our pay.”



Fire, Police unions concerned about mayor’s pension proposal

The Memphis Firefighters Association and the Memphis Police Association expressed some concerns about Mayor A C Wharton’s recent employee pension proposal. Firefighters’ Association President Thomas Malone said the pension plan prefers employees that work until age 60, which is problematic for firefighters. Malone said many workers have paid into their pensions as promised, but the city hasn’t held up its end of the deal, a situation that has occurred everywhere in the country.

Memphis Police Association President Michael Williams agreed, saying there is a problem with “guys leaving left and right.” The mayor’s proposal is two-fold: part market-based and part 401(a). It also includes a lifetime annuity.



Fort Smith budget woes may result in layoffs, protests from fire and police unions

Layoffs appear to be on the table for Fort Smith city employees as the city budget woes continue. According to an email Fort Smith City Administrator Ray Gosack sent to the city’s Board of Directors on Thursday (Oct. 16), “there doesn’t appear to be an end in sight” to the budget problems.

Gosack had said throughout the year that his goal was to provide pay raises to all city employees, but he said with sales tax revenues remaining flat and expected flat revenues through 2015, no money is available.

The biggest cuts to the general fund would have come to the police department, which showed expenses reduced by $667,200 in the hypothetical 2014 budget. The cuts included eliminating all animal control services and the boarding of animals at the Humane Society. Additionally, no calls for animal services will be answered by the police department. The proposal also eliminated two dispatchers, one records clerk and one police officer.

Cpl. Matthew Holloway, president of the Fort Smith chapter of the Fraternal Order of Police, said there had been discussions among not only police officers and firefighters, but other city staff, of staging protests at the city offices on Garrison Avenue. He said there could be a large number of police officers and firefighters showing up to city Board meetings to voice their displeasure with the budget situation, including the pension fund situation which Gosack did not mention in his emails regarding the 2015 budget.



For City and Police Union, Numbers Don’t Add Up

It was the San Antonio police union’s turn to present a health care benefits and wage proposal at last week’s collective bargaining session with the City of San Antonio.

It didn’t take long for the two sides to agree, yet again, that neither side buys the other’s numbers. Negotiators on both sides of the table grew snappish as the afternoon meeting drew to a close, agreeing to meet again Monday, Nov. 3 at 1 p.m., with little promise of an agreement in sight.

City Council’s 2015 budget for the new fiscal year went into effect on Oct. 1, and holds public safety costs at 66% of the general budget, which exceeds $1 billion for the first time. That meant holding union health care costs down to $10,000 a year per uniform officer, far less than the $14,400 currently being spent on each officer, but well above the $7,300 the City spends on health care for each civilian employee.

Ron DeLord, the lead union negotiator, and Randy McGraw, the union’s benefits consultant, surprised City negotiators with a proposal to move all uniform police officers to a single Consumer Driven Health Plan, an option that is growing in popularity as employers everywhere struggle to contain runaway health care costs and shift more responsibility to employees. McGraw cited a weekend Wall Street Journal story on the trend as he presented the proposal.

DeLord made it that the union does not accept $10,900 as a hard and fast number. City Council, he said, is free to agree to a higher number.

The exchanges grew heated as the meeting drew to a conclusion and DeLord complained of “dishonesty” in Londa’s claim the union proposal would consume 70% of the general budget.



Newark seeks to slash cops’ pay, hire 65 more officers in 2015

Newark would like to make cuts in city cops’ compensation packages in order to save enough money to hire an additional 65 officers in 2015, officials announced. But the proposed cuts are likely to spark a new fight with the Fraternal Order of Police, which is currently renegotiating its contract with the city. “They have presented us with a proposal that looks to take away thousands dollars from our members,” said FOP president James Stewart Jr.

Under the proposal, the city would get rid of stipends paid to detectives on top of their overtime payments, make weekends part of regularly scheduled workweeks, and eliminate gasoline allowances for detectives, officials said. More specifically, non-patrol detectives would either work a Saturday to Thursday workweek or a Tuesday to Sunday workweek. The detectives would no longer be paid overtime for Saturdays and Sundays.


Police Union in Miami-Dade launches its own “racy” radio show

The Dade County Police Benevolent Association is launching its own hour-long radio show “Rapid Response” on 880 am radio. It will air twice a month on the first and third Thursdays of the month.

The show was born from the idea that there are many topics and issues facing our community which require more than 15 second soundbyte responses.

“There are stories that aren’t being told and news that isn’t being covered. We want the chance to delve deep into issues and interact with the community,” said PBA President John Rivera.

According to Rivera, like most things the Dade County PBA undertakes, the show will be racy and thought provoking.



Tucson may owe pension fund extra $16M next year

Tucson could pay up to $16 million more for its police and fire pensions next fiscal year, according to a newly released state pension board report. The ballooning costs are mostly the result of a recent Arizona Supreme Court decision overturning a 2011 state law intended to keep pension costs down. The decision means Tucson could pay about $62 million for its public-safety pensions next year.

Back in February, the court ordered the Public Safety Personnel Retirement System to reimburse retirees $40 million for past cost-of-living increases and to shift $335 million to a reserve fund to cover future cost-of-living increases. For Tucson, it drops its police and fire pensions under 40 percent funded through the plan’s investments, according to PSPRS documents. As a result, Tucson will likely pay over 60 cents on every dollar of salary for police and fire personnel toward pensions.


Ron DeLord is recognized as one of the leading police union contract negotiators in the United States, with more than 150 police contracts under his belt. He is the co-author of six published books – two on police power, politics and confrontation,  two on interested-based bargaining, and two on the history of Texas Lawmen. Ron has been on the guest faculty at the Harvard Law School since 1993 for the Harvard Trade Union Program and two Police Union Leadership Programs. He has conducted seminars, workshops and training programs on public sector union leadership, power, organization, media and political action throughout the United States, Canada and Australia.

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