City, FOP at odds on CBA


Negotiations between the City of Delaware and the Fraternal Order of Police (FOP) for a new collective bargaining agreement (CBA) will continue after both sides rejected the findings of an independent factfinder this week.

The two parties presented their positions to factfinder Joseph Gardner and the State Employment Relations Board during a hearing on Nov. 9, as well as through written statements following the hearing. Gardner issued his report and recommendations to the parties last Friday, at which time both parties had seven days to either accept or reject the recommendations.

According to Gardner’s report, leading into the hearing, the FOP had issues with existing CBA articles involving wages, hours of work and overtime, vacation time, health insurance, and duration. The FOP also took issue with a waiver in case of emergency dispute, which did not have an article in the current CBA.

With the exception of the waiver dispute, the city also presented issues with the same five articles of the existing CBA.

At the beginning of the fact-finding hearing, both sides resolved the issue regarding hours of work and overtime and stated they’d agreed to language regarding the duration issue. The FOP withdrew its issue with the waiver in case of emergency, leaving wages, vacation time, and health insurance as the remaining hurdles to clear.

The FOP is requesting a 7% wage increase for each of the next three years for a 21% total increase by 2025. The city has proposed a 3% increase in each of the next three years for a 9% total wage increase. Following the hearing and post-hearing written statements, Gardner recommended the 7% yearly increase.

Regarding vacation time, the report stated the FOP “requests a change in the CBA that the city will approve, instead of ‘may’ approve, three overlapping days of prime vacation, instead of ‘some’ days of prime vacation. The FOP requested the phrase “at their discretion” be removed from the CBA.

The report added, “The current language gives the city the entity that determines overlapping days of prime vacation. It would be in the City’s discretion to approve if the employee days of prime vacation could be used. This is a decision that must be made on short notice, and the city must act quickly to avoid staff shortages. If there is abuse by the city, a grievance can promptly be filed.”

Gardner ultimately concluded the current language for vacation time in the CBA is fair.

As for insurance, the city has proposed the police give up its current health care plan and join another plan used by all city employees. The city feels the police department joining the same plan would increase the volume of employees paying for the plan, subsequently driving down the cost.

According to the report, the city is also concerned the FOP’s current health plan is “antiquated” and will continue to get more expensive for the city with each passing year. The FOP would not relent, however, insisting it keep its current health plan and citing issues with some of the language proposed by the city regarding dependents and the FOP’s ability, or perceived lack thereof, to grieve or litigate when considering who ultimately determines if coverage exists.

Ultimately, Gardner issued the recommendation that the FOP joins the same insurance plan as all other city employees.

The report stated, “This factfinder believes that both the city and the union must ‘shop’ for health insurance for all city employees. This factfinder also believes that the city, all the unions, and all non-union employees should have a duty to do those things necessary to keep good and needed coverage at the best and lowest possible rate.”

The FOP, which represents both full-time police officers and full-time sergeants and captains as separate bargaining units, issued notices of rejection of Gardner’s recommendations on both units’ behalves on Monday. City Council followed suit with a unanimous vote during its meeting on Monday, which began with an executive session to discuss the city’s position on the recommendations.

By Dillon Davis

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Reach Dillon Davis at 740-413-0904. Follow him on Twitter @DillonDavis56.

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