WARREN Police union disputes language in contract
An ordinance to apply for a grant connected to the Warren bike trail passed.
By DENISE DICK
VINDICATOR TRUMBULL STAFF
WARREN -- City council passed an ordinance to implement a police contract, despite contentions from the union that the language regarding pension pickup isn't what they agreed to.
A conciliator released the binding report recommending wage increases of 4 percent in each of the three years of the contract. The raises for the 42-member union are retroactive to 2001 and 2002 and for 2003.
The previous three-year pact expired in December 1999. A one-year contract was approved in 2000, and police and other employees took a one-year wage freeze during the city's fiscal squeeze. Negotiations began in 2001.
The conciliator also wrote in his report that the city will pay 5 percent of the employees' contribution to the police and fire pension and disability fund, effective July 1. Effective July 1, 2003, the city's share will increase to 6 percent of the employees' contribution.
"That's not the intent of the language negotiated," said Patrolman Doug Hipple, a union representative. "It's a perversion of what was negotiated."
He said the union intended the city to pay half of the employee contribution.
Hoping for clarification
"We're hoping the administration will step forward and address this," Hipple said. "If not we'll have to go back and ask the arbitrator to clarify the language."
He pointed out that a fact finder recommended the union receive a 23 percent pay increase over the life of the contract.
"We reduced that when we went back to arbitration," Hipple said.
City officials have said that union representatives wrote the language addressing the pension pickup that was adopted by the conciliator.
Council members retired to executive session for about an hour before emerging and passing the ordinance implementing the contract.
Under the contract, police officers with three years or more of service will earn $18.58 per hour retroactive to 2001, $19.32 hourly retroactive to Jan. 1, 2002, and $20.09 hourly beginning Jan. 1, 2003.
Officers with up to one year of service will earn $13.01 hourly retroactive to 2001, $13.53 hourly retroactive to Jan. 1, 2002, and $14.07 hourly beginning Jan. 1, 2003.
Council also passed an ordinance authorizing the filing of an application for a $56,250 grant to buy property for the Warren bikeway. The nearly two-mile section of former B & amp;O rail right of way stretches from Burton Street to Forest Street. The section is to be a part of the Great Ohio Lake to River Greenway Trail.
Councilmen Alford L. Novak, D-2nd, Robert Holmes III, D-4th, and Doc Pugh, D-6th, voted against it.
Novak pointed to crime in the area, saying the people in the neighborhood should be able to buy the property rather than using it for a bike trail.
Eutona Nance of Vine Street opposes the plan. "It comes right behind my property and we see prostitutes and drug dealers doing their business," she said.
Mayor Hank Angelo said that if the city gets the grant and council decides it opposes the bike trail plan, the city can turn down the money.
Councilman Robert A. Marchese, D-at large, said he supports the legislation because it is the right thing for the community.
"Everyone wants to be a progressive community," he said. "Do we want to move ahead or continue to be where we're at?"
Councilman Brendan J. Keating, D-5th, agreed. "The fears as pertaining to bike trails are unsubstantiated," he said.
Keating pointed to studies distributed by Dave Robison, city director of engineering, planning and community development, saying that bike trails in other communities don't increase crime.
"I sometimes marvel at what we're opposed to," he said.
April 30 is the deadline for the grant application. Because three council members voted against the legislation, 30 days must pass before it's effective. Robison said the city may be able to file the application and send additional information after the 30 days.