September 14, 2014

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Union, township at odds in talks

Maria Kacik | The Gazette

BRUNSWICK HILLS TWP. — The union representing the township’s two full-time police sergeants this month rejected findings by a state board asked to mediate contract negotiations between the Fraternal Order of Police, Lodge 15, and trustees.

Only one sergeant participated in the vote to reject the board’s recommendations on pay and discipline, according to a report from the State Employment Relations Board.

The township and FOP have been negotiating since the beginning of last year on a three-year contract that was set to begin this year.

Members currently are working under a contract extension.

Brunswick Hills trustee Mike Esber said Thursday he couldn’t discuss the contract negotiations, and an official with the FOP did not return a call seeking comment.

SERB released a report earlier this month outlining the snags in negotiations between the township and Lodge 15, which also represents six patrol officers.

During a mediation session on June 18, the parties came to tentative agreements on seven points, including sick leave, holidays and hours of work. They were at an impasse on employee discipline and compensation.

The township wanted the right to discipline employees within 120 days of an incident and the FOP counter-proposed 60 days. SERB
recommended within 90 days, according to a July 7 board report.

On the pay issue, the township offered base wage increases to patrol officers and sergeants of 3 percent in 2009, 2.5 percent in 2010 and 2.5 percent in 2011. The FOP wanted raises of 3 percent each year for patrol officers. The sergeants wanted raises of 4 percent in 2009, 4.25 percent in 2010 and 4.5 percent in 2011.

In addition, the patrol officers and sergeants wanted a $1,300 stipend they received in 2008 to be considered part of their base wage.

The township maintained that rolling in the stipend would “create the appearance of approving a wage increase in 2009 in excess of five percent,” the report said.

The state board recommended the stipend be rolled into the base wage, and patrol officers and sergeants receive a 3 percent raise in 2009 and 2.75 percent in 2010 and 2011.

Neither the township nor the patrol officers rejected the board’s findings, SERB general counsel Seth Keith said.

Keith said the township and sergeant’s union now will move on to a conciliation hearing in which both sides will argue their case and a mediator will make a decision.

Meanwhile, the township filed a motion with the state this week asking it to vacate the sergeant union’s rejection. If accepted, the state’s recommendations in the July 7 report would be upheld, Keith said.

Contact Maria Kacik at (330) 721-4049 or mkacik@ohio.net.