Fact-finder gives report on pact for patrol officers

Union members are expected to vote on the report Thursday.
WARREN -- A fact-finder's report recommends the city pay all of the police officers' contribution to their pension fund and get 4 percent pay increases in 2005 and 2006.
The report is on city council's regular meeting agenda next week. The union is expected to vote on it Thursday, said S. Randall Weltman, staff attorney for the Ohio Patrolmen's Benevolent Association.
"It's a pretty good contract," Weltman said. "We didn't get everything that we wanted, but overall it's pretty good."
What city offered
The city had offered no increase this year, 3.5 percent in 2005 and 2 percent in 2006.
Fact-finder Dennis Byrne of Munroe Falls wrote that evidence does not support that the city is in severe financial distress, and said both sides presented testimony that the city administration believed the city could fund wage increases.
"This is especially true if the tax levy currently on the ballot is approved by the voters," Byrne wrote, referring to the 0.5 percent income tax renewed by voters last month to fund the safety forces.
City officials couldn't be reached to comment on the report's financial impact.
Union members with three or more years of service earn $20.09 hourly under the contract that expired last year. Those with up to one year of service earn $14.07 hourly.
The report also refers to the fact that the union representing ranking police officers received a 3.5 percent wage increase this year.
Under the current contract, the city pays about 60 percent of employees' contribution to the Police and Fire Pension and Disability Fund.
Right of first refusal
The fact-finder also sided with the union that patrolmen should have the right of first refusal on special details.
For the past few years, the city has received grants for traffic details, school safety and DUI task force participation that are offered to all members of the department using a bid system.
The special duty allows officers to receive overtime pay.
The union argued that the duties involved are those usually performed by patrol officers and that the bid system allows ranking officers to perform bargaining unit work.
It also contended that the work isn't evenly distributed, and some ranking officers receive preferential treatment in the assignment of extra work.
Police Chief John Mandopoulos testified that his administration worked to get the grants and that all members of the department should have equal opportunity to work the details, the report said.
Data presented by the union appears "to support the contention that some ranking officers are working more hours on the extra-duty details than seems reasonable. That is, the hours do not appear to be randomly distributed," the fact-finder wrote.
Byrne agreed with the union and recommended that patrol officers be offered the right to work the special details first. If an insufficient number of patrol officers bid on the work, all members of the department will be able to bid for the extra duty, he said.

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