By Jeff Gallatin
Contract talks between the city of North Olmsted negotiating team and unions for the city police department are scheduled to get under way next week.
Officials have set the first meeting for Dec. 8 between city officials and representatives for the police supervisors, patrol officers and jail or correctional officers.
Mayor Kevin Kennedy’s administration earlier this month tapped a familiar face to handle the legal portion of the city’s negotiations in Gary Johnson. Johnson’s firm has represented the city in contract negotiations with various employee unions since 2002.
That choice had been delayed for several weeks after City Council voted down the administration’s plan to award the contract to Johnson’s law firm without seeking proposals from other potential negotiators. Council members voting against the proposal said they would prefer the city law director handle the talks, or at least have the city seek proposals from several firms. The administration then sought proposals from other firms, receiving five, after which Johnson’s firm was again selected, with administration officials saying the RFP (Requests for Proposal) pact was not to exceed $25,000.
North Olmsted Human Resources Director Cheryl Farver who, along with Finance Director Carrie Copfer, is part of the administration’s negotiating team, said the city is ready to begin talks.
“We hope to have productive talks and reach a fair agreement,” she said.
North Olmsted police Capt. Mike Kilbane, who represents the department’s supervisors, said the union groups are also ready.
“We’re going into the talks with open minds and hope to reach an agreement which is fair to the employees and to the city,” he said.
Current contracts with the police unions and the city firefighters are set to expire at the end of this year.
The current contracts included provisions that included concessions of anywhere between 10 and 15 percent annually, depending upon the position and the individual officer’s service with the city. Some of the furlough days given up in the contract were restored last year. The contracts and concessions were agreed upon as one way of helping the city deal with shrinking sources of revenue and a tight economy.