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City mulling contract negotiator choice as union prepares Unfair Labor Practices complaint

By Jeff Gallatin

North Olmsted

The North Olmsted Board of Control was meeting Tuesday to recommend a negotiator for upcoming labor contract talks as the city faced the prospect of an Unfair Labor Practice complaint being filed against it for not coming to the table for negotiations.

Five firms filed proposals to conduct labor negotiations with the city. The Board of Control meeting became necessary after City Council rejected, by a 4-3 margin, rehiring Johnson, Miller & Schmitz – without seeking proposals – which had conducted city labor talks since 2002. In rejecting giving the pact to the Johnson’s firm without seeking proposals, council members said they would like the city to consider having its law department conduct the talks or at least seek proposals from several firms. Johnson’s firm was one of the five to file proposals with the city.

Meanwhile, Lucy DiNardo, the Fraternal Order of Police negotiator representing the police patrolmen, correctional officer and supervisors unions, sent a letter to the city Oct. 21 alleging the city would not negotiate until after the November vote on State Issue 2, which would effectively decide the fate of collective bargaining laws for government employees. DiNardo said she has attempted to set meeting dates with city representatives since Sept. 1 but had been told by city representatives the “city is not coming to the table until after the November election.” She also cited an Oct. 19 West Life article in which Mayor Kevin Kennedy and Human Resources Director Cheryl Farver indicated it was unlikely city officials would conduct negotiations until after the election was decided.

“These comments, and the city’s failure to schedule any meetings after numerous requests by the union, constitute an unfair labor practice,”  DiNardo said in the letter. “The union has made a timely request for negotiations concerning appropriate subject matter for bargaining and the city has refused to come to the table to bargain in good faith.”

Based on this, DiNardo said she would file an unfair labor practices complaint against the city with the State Employment Relations Board unless it provided union representatives with date and times for negotiations before Nov. 1 (Tuesday). As of mid-morning Tuesday, DiNardo said she had not heard back from the city.

“Based on this, I will be filing the Unfair Labor Practices complaint against the city,” Dinardo said.

If deemed appropriate, the complaint could result in a ruling from the board effectively forcing the city to set dates and negotiate in good faith.

Kennedy said the city does plan to negotiate.

“We want to get to the table as quickly as possible,” he said. “But, it would be prudent to see the results of Issue 2.”

Kennedy said he would review the results of board of review’s recommendation for a negotiator, then make his decision.

City contracts with the police and fire unions expire at the end of 2011. Other city contracts expire during 2012.

In addition to Johnson, Miller & Schmitz, the other firms filing proposals were Walter & Haverfield, Hahn, Loeser & Parks, McGinty, Hilow & Spellacy and Dylan, Iosue & Associates.

Farver said city officials were somewhat surprised at the number of  proposals returned, noting it had contacted several firms and had others call and inquire about what the city was seeking.

 

 

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