The Illinois FOP Labor Council

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By Gary Bailey, Attorney - Thursday, March 5, 2015

 

Lansing Officers have a new four-year agreement.  The contract was resolved at interest arbitration. Arbitrator Benn ruled in favor of the Village regarding wages and residency, but ruled in favor of the Union on uniform allowance and sick leave.

Regarding wages, the only difference was the Village’s offer of 1.0% in the first year compared to the Union’s offer of 1.5% in the first year.  The Arbitrator awarded the Village final offer based upon the cost of living, the internal comparables and overall compensation.

            Regarding uniform allowance, the Village proposed an increase in the existing allowance, but wanted it paid only after submission of receipts; the Union proposed a slightly larger increase in the allowance than proposed by the Village but wanted the system (annual check) to remain the same.  The Arbitrator awarded the Union’s final offer, noting the financial difference was minor and the Village did not prove that the existing system was causing any problems that needed to be addressed.

            Regarding sick leave, the Village proposed an entirely new system of accruing sick leave arguing the officers were abusing sick leave; the Union proposed the status quo.  The Arbitrator awarded the Union’s final offer, finding that the Village had not made sufficient effort to address the conduct it deemed to be abuse of sick leave despite language in the contract giving it the right to do so.

            Regarding residency, the Union proposed status quo, which allowed officers with over ten years of service to reside out-of-State, while the Village proposed banning out-of-State residency.  The Illinois Public Labor Relations Act prohibits arbitrator from awarding out-of-State residency, thus making the Union’s offer completely unattainable.

            The Arbitrator addressed the issue after a review of the bargaining history.  In the negotiation of the previous agreement, a breakthrough was bargained to allow officers with more than 10 years of service to establish residency in Indiana.  The unit conceded two consecutive years of wage freezes for this benefit, and eight officers (20% of the bargaining unit) took advantage of this chance to move.  They reside between 2.7 miles and 17.4 miles from Village Hall, with commute times between 7 and 25 minutes.

            Arbitrator Benn wrote:

...the very next contract following that agreed-upon breakthrough on residency and the following migration to Indiana by 20% of the bargaining unit – the Village now seeks to restrict residency to locations in Illinois.  If adopted, the Village’s position in this matter would force the officers who just recently moved to Indiana to now move back to Illinois else be in jeopardy of being disciplined up to discharge for doing exactly what the parties agreed those officers could do in the last Agreement.  To me, that is perplexing.

Lansing, p.32.  Benn noted that Illinois law dictated the result and he had to award the Village final offer because interest arbitrators are not permitted to award out-of-State residency.

Benn found that there was no operational reason supporting or justifying the Village’s proposal.  Benn emphasized that depriving the citizens of its most experienced officers did not serve the interests and welfare of the public.  Benn noted that the proposal was the result of a “tactical bargaining” stance, whereby the Village was trying to the get the Union to move off its status quo position regarding changes to sick leave.  The approach did not work and both issues were advanced by the Village to arbitration.

            Thus, despite all of the practical reasons not to award the Village’s final offer, Benn awarded it though he described it as an “unfair” result.  Benn finished his award by asking the parties NOT to write his residency award into the new contract but to return to the bargaining table and try to avoid a “lose-lose” result.

John Tomaszewski, Josh Scheeringa, Mike Hynek, Mike Lazowski and Erik Morey should be recognized for their efforts to keep their police force united in the face of this unprecedented attack.