By Jeff Gallatin
Both city and police union officials said they believe a final contract will likely be completed in the near future.
Members of the police supervisors, patrol officers and correctional officers unions approved a fact-finding report Aug. 10. After a special Aug. 14 meeting and executive session to discuss the report’s findings, City Council let pass a few days later, with no action, a seven-day deadline for formally acting on the report. By taking no action, council let the report be accepted.
With that acceptance, it now remains to the negotiators to hammer out the final contract details.
City Law Director Michael Gareau Jr. said the contract language should be finalized soon.
“We could get it done in time for presentation at the next regular council meeting (Tuesday),” he said. “I think we can get this done. Both the city and the unions have been working to get it done.”
Gareau did note that several years ago it took 11
attempts to get a final version of a contract between the city and firefighters approved and signed.
“You’re never sure until everything is signed, but we should be able to get this done,” he said.
Capt. Mike Kilbane, head of the police supervisors’ union, was cautious, but optimistic.
“With the fact-finding report being accepted by both sides, we’re now at the point of taking the findings of that report to help get the final language in the contract,” he said. “Once we see a final contract that reflects those findings, we should be able to get the contract finalized.”
Each side said it appreciated how the other conducted itself during the discussions.
“Directors (human resources Director Cheryl) Farver and (finance Director Carrie) Copfer were instrumental in getting this done,” Kilbane said. “They worked very hard to make sure there would be an agreement.”
Farver said the police unions also conducted themselves well.
“They were very professional in their approach to this,” she said.
Gareau noted the new contract will come after a previous one that was tough for all parties involved.
“Everybody wanted to get this one done in a good way,” he said. “We appreciate that the unions are aware of what’s still going on in the economy, but still wanted to be treated fairly.”
Mayor Kevin Kennedy said the new agreement puts a good framework in place for new contracts with employees.
“We appreciate the hard work by our negotiating team and the FOP (Fraternal Order of Police) in getting this done,” Kennedy said. “It’s good to have the police contracts in place and sets a good precedent as we prepare to work on other contracts for the city, including the discussions with the fire department.”
The new agreement will take the place of a three-year agreement that expired at the end of 2011. That agreement contained concessions from the police unions that ranged from 10 to 15 percent per person, depending on rank, seniority and related criteria. City officials had sought the concessions to combat the effects of the several-years-long Great Recession. Both sides acknowledged that North Olmsted officers’ pay scales were the lowest in the Westshore, with union officials indicating they did not want additional major concessions in a new agreement.