By Jeff Gallatin
With the ink barely drying on a new three-year contract with city police, officials from the North Olmsted city administration and other unions are working on additional new agreements.
City Council approved the new three-year contract with police at the Sept. 18 regular City Council meeting. The pact terms for both the supervisors’ and patrol officers’ bargaining units include pay raises of 2.5 percent for the first year and 2 percent each for the second and third years of the agreement. The contract also includes changes in the longevity financial clauses for officers, which administration officials sought, saying it will be easier for the city financially while still trying to be fair to the officers.
It is the first contract since the previous three-year pact, which ran from 2009 to 2011, expired at the end of last year. That contract included concessions including unpaid furlough days and financial cuts, depending upon the individual officer. It came shortly after the city laid off five workers each in the police, fire and service departments. Comparable concessions were made by all the city employee unions and, along with the layoffs, were designed to help the city combat the effects of the Great Recession and a bad economy.
Administration and police union officials said they were satisfied with the new three-year contract, noting that it adheres closely to the report issued by a fact-finder this summer. The fact-finder was brought in after the two sides had been unable to reach an agreement on their own.
“It went very well,” said Law Director Michael Gareau, who commended all the members of the city negotiating team. “A lot of work was put into it. It’s a good agreement for all the parties involved.”
Capt. Mike Kilbane, of the police supervisors’ union, said the contract turned out well.
“It’s a fair contract for all of us,” he said. “There weren’t any surprises, and people on both sides worked hard to get this done for the city.”
Kilbane said the unions did not want to have to consider concessions like the ones in the last contract.
Both Gareau and Kilbane said that they were pleased to have a three-year contract on the books, which means they won’t have to go back to the negotiating table as quickly as they would have for a one- or two-year agreement.
Paul Barker, chairman of city council’s finance committee, said having the contract is good for all involved.
“All the people involved in this worked hard to get it done,” he said. “I’m glad the police and the city feel they have a good agreement. And usually when we get a police or fire contract done first, the others will usually also come in with similar terms.”
Referring to other contracts, human resources Director Cheryl Farver said one negotiating session has already been held with the city dispatchers’ union, with another one coming up. Sessions with the AFSCME and clerical-technical union are being rescheduled. The initial sessions with those unions were postponed due to an unexpected medical problem for one of the negotiators. Sessions with the city firefighters’ union still have to be scheduled.
Both Farver and the unions’ representatives said they don’t expect the talks to be like the previous contract.
“We’re back to more traditional negotiating sessions,” Farver said.
“We got the furlough days back and the other contract has expired,” Tammy Farris, of the dispatchers’ union, said. “We’re just looking for something fair and comparable to the police agreement.”
Sandy Agresta, of the clerical-technical union, also said that union is just looking for a fair agreement.