City taps team for upcoming police union negotiation

City taps team for upcoming police union negotiation

(Dec. 19, 2014) If the city’s payroll were the NFL, this week would’ve been draft season – just much less entertaining.

The Town of Ocean City has set its negotiating team for the 2015 union contract with the Fraternal Order of Police, a process that is like to have a major impact on the city’s overall payroll for the duration of the agreement.

The last FOP contract, negotiated in 2013, was a two-year agreement that will expire at the end of the fiscal year on June 30, 2015.

During Monday’s closed session, the City Council selected members Lloyd Martin, Doug Cymek, and Wayne Hartman to represent itself in the negotiations.

The committee also includes, by default, the mayor, city solicitor, human resources director, finance administrator, and city manager.

The team also includes two members of the Ocean City Police Department’s management staff, Capt. Mike Colbert and Lt. Elton Harmon.

Under the city’s charter, which was amended in 2002 to allow for collective bargaining in the OCPD, the city and the FOP may go to binding arbitration if they cannot broker an agreement by March 1 of the year concerned.

This option has never been exercised, although negotiations frequently go beyond March.

The city also negotiated a three-year deal in 2013 with the International Association of Fire Fighters, which represents unionized positions in the Ocean City Fire Department.

Conference dates for the coming year have not been set, but will likely begin at the end of January, according to City Solicitor Guy Ayres.

The city’s comparative salary study, said to be the key element of the negotiations and the payroll for all city employees, is not slated to be complete until the end of February.

The outcome of 2013’s FOP contract was a series of pay-scale step increases that brought officers closer to where they would have been had FOP members not voluntarily given the city a pass on a new contract when it froze pay for non-union staff following the 2008 economic recession.

The total cost of the contract was $675,391 over the past two years, versus a scenario in which FOP members continued at a flat pay level for two years.

Further, the raises given to the FOP typically set the standard for raises given to the city’s non-union, general employees. Raises for those outside the FOP and IAFF averaged 2.89 percent last year, which resulted in $768,549 in total salary cost increases when combined with equivalent union raises.

Negotiations would also open the door to changes in pension and benefits for FOP employees. In 2013, the FOP successfully negotiated to have new union officers placed back on the defined-benefits pension plan, rather than staying on the 401(a) retirement system, which the city had instituted for new hires in 2011.

The firefighters, meanwhile, elected to stick with the new pension system because of the outstanding performance of the investment market.

 

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