Monday, February 18, 2013

Saginaw police unions file grievances, accusing city of violating contracts with officers

Mark Tower | By Mark Tower |
on February 18, 2013 at 11:46 AM, updated February 18, 2013 at 11:47 AM

Doug Wortley announces Saginaw police union filing grievance against the city View full size Saginaw police officer Doug Wortley, president of the Saginaw police officers' union, announces during a press conference on Feb. 18, that the union is filing a grievance against the city alleging that the city is violating its contract with the union.
SAGINAW, MI — The Saginaw police officers' union claims their employer, by delivering a proposed law enforcement services contract to Saginaw County Sheriff William Federspiel, is violating the group's employment contract.
Union President Doug Wortley announced Monday, Jan. 18, that the union is filing a grievance against the city of Saginaw for delivering a draft contract to Federspiel on Friday, Feb. 15. Wortley called the action a "clear violation" of the city's current contract with officers.
"The city's proposed contract with the attempted outsourcing violates no less than three articles of the contract," he said. "They can't just walk away from the contract."
According to Wortley, the city is violating the "non-interference" clause in the contract, which is meant to protect officers against union-busting.
The contract states that the city agrees to not "aid, promote, or finance any labor group or organization which purports to engage in collective bargaining or make any agreement with any such group or organization for the purpose of undermining the Union."
Employee Services Director Dennis Jordan said he has not yet seen the grievance, but said he expects that the matter will likely wind up in front of an arbitrator.
"With contracts, it all goes down to interpretation," Jordan said.
Wortley also said the union is considering filing an unfair labor practice complaint against the city with the Michigan Employment Relations Commission. Whether or not the officers have standing to file such a complaint is currently being considered by attorneys for the Police Officer Association of Michigan, he said.
Despite the disagreement, Wortley said both the police officers' and command officers' unions are working on a cost-savings proposal to bring back to city labor negotiators.
"The officers of the Saginaw Police Department are committed to assisting with a resolution to the financial situation," he said.
"They can't just walk away from the contract." -Saginaw police officers' union President Doug Wortley
Wortley said the substance of the proposal, currently being reviewed by the command officers' union, is not related to a contract with the sheriff, though he declined to offer further details.
Both unions previously offered up a compromise that included support of a county contract, which was denied by city representatives. That resulted in an apparent impasse in negotiations between the two parties.
Wortley said wanted to commend Saginaw County commissioners and Federspiel himself in the positions the elected county leaders have taken thus far.
After receiving the contract Friday, the sheriff said he is not yet ready to negotiate a contract with the city. He said he wants to see the city and the union reach a conclusion together first.
When asked if filing the grievance would hurt any future talks with the city, Wortley said the city administration has already damaged its relationship with the unions by "refusing to negotiate."
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