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Archive for Thursday, July 16, 2009

City hits impasse on police, fire contracts

Firefighters extinguish flames that broke out around at a 1908 E. 19th St. home in the Brookwood Mobile Home Park in March.

Firefighters extinguish flames that broke out around at a 1908 E. 19th St. home in the Brookwood Mobile Home Park in March.

July 16, 2009

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Law enforcement officers reach pay impasse

For the second year in a row, Lawrence police and fire fighters are struggling to settle on a labor agreement. Enlarge video

For the second year in a row, the city is struggling to reach agreement with police officers and firefighters on new labor contracts.

The Lawrence Police Officers Association and the Lawrence Professional Firefighters chapter have declared an impasse in negotiations with a team of City Hall negotiators. A federal mediator was on scene last week, but was unable to bring the sides together.

“Overall, the number of issues we have unresolved is greater this year,” said Diane Stoddard, the assistant city manager who is leading the City Hall team.

The labor contract for both employee groups will expire at the end of the year. State law prohibits public employees from going on strike, but a representative of the firefighters group said the negotiations have taken a heavy toll on employee morale.

“We feel like they have given us a take-it-or-leave it proposal,” said Mike McMillen, president of the firefighters group. “We feel like they haven’t negotiated with us in good faith. There’s a lot of frustration.”

Stoddard declined to discuss specifics of the negotiations, but downplayed concerns the process is damaging City Hall’s relationship with employees.

“Overall, we consider our relationship to be good with all employees, and we work hard to ensure that is the case,” Stoddard said. “But given the economic times, we believe it is not unusual to have these discussions be lengthier than other times.”

Last year, police and fire groups declared an impasse after they could not agree with the city on the issue of longevity pay. This year the list of issues includes overall compensation, longevity pay, wellness days, sick leave, requirements for general competencies, and how long a new labor agreement should be in effect.

The sides are leaving open the possibility of more negotiations between now and July 28, when city commissioners are scheduled to act as arbitrators and pick from proposals presented by the city’s management team and the two employee groups, which are similar to unions.

Compensation rates, and how they compare with wages paid in other communities, are major points still left unresolved.

“The LPOA is optimistic that the city will follow through with its philosophy and commitment that officers (and) detectives will be compensated at the market average during ‘robust’ economic times as well as during challenging economic times,” said Mike McAtee, president of the police officers association.

This year police officers and firefighters received a 1.5 percent cost-of-living increase, plus employees were eligible for merit pay increases of up to 5 percent.

That made police and fire employees — the only two groups that negotiate labor contracts with the city — significantly different from other general city employees. This year marks the first time that general city employees no longer are eligible for cost-of-living increases. Instead, city employees only are eligible for merit increases of zero to 5 percent, based upon their performance reviews.

General city employees — who don’t get to negotiate with the city — are likely to see smaller pay increases in 2010. City Manager David Corliss’ recommended budget calls for the total amount of money set aside for merit raises to increase by 1 percent in 2010. That’s down from a 2 percent increase in 2009.

Comments

compmd 5 years, 5 months ago

I think the city workers need to unionize with AFSCME, the fsckin union that works for you!

NSFW: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_3mw49...

bangaranggerg 5 years, 5 months ago

It's not take it or leave it; it's take it and quit complaining because you job isn't as hard as you make it out to be.

lgreen17 5 years, 5 months ago

As a KU employee I didn't get a raise this year. No cost of living, no merit increase. Why do the police and fire departments of the city think they should get pay increases? Everyone has to cut back. Really.

KaraGourley 5 years, 5 months ago

Everyone else isn't out there trying to protect your ass Consumer1!

rousseau108 5 years, 5 months ago

none2,

Wow, you really have no idea what either group does. Why don't you search for articles on the JW site about the Boardwalk fire. The cops were the ones actually rescuing people from the burning buildings, without the benefit of fireproof suits, air tanks, etc, while the firefighters were still setting up their equipment. Or go deal with the all the thugs shooting at people, and see how safe it is.

Aside from that, the general city employees are really getting screwed. The article failed to mention that the merit raises are based on a merit POOL, meaning there is only so much to go around. So in order for you to get a good raise, your friend you work with has to get basically nothing. Way to foster competition among workers that should be emphasizing teamwork. Thanks city hall.

Kirk Larson 5 years, 5 months ago

In the best of all possible worlds cops, firemen, EMT's, nurses, and teachers would all make more money than professional athletes.

gogoplata 5 years, 5 months ago

Tax feeders wanting more money from the productive citizens.

LA_Ex 5 years, 5 months ago

I had a friend that was on the fire department in Lawrence. Before he left he told me that they basically work a regular job from the time they showed up in the morning until around 4 or 5:00 pm. In between the emergencies there was a lot of paperwork, building inspections, equipment maintenance, etc... Unlike you and I though, they didn't get to go home at 5:00. They had to stay and wait for more emergency work to do, finally getting to go home the next morning. Kind of sounded like a lot of work in a 24 hour period. I'm not sure if it's still like that or not, but I'm guessing it is.

compmd 5 years, 5 months ago

What a bunch of idiots some of you are.

Police and firemen are some of the lowest paid professional jobs out there, not to mention having the risk of being burned alive or shot. How many of you would run into a burning building, or confront one of the fine patrons of Club 821? If you ever have a fire, a heart attack, or are victim of a crime, I want you to look a fireman or policeman in the eye and tell them "I don't think you deserve cost of living raises." You hide behind your keyboard and berate those whose duty it is to serve you.

Now, on a lighter note, didn't anyone learn anything from that video? City workers:

-Pick up your fsckin garbage -Plug up the holes in the road so you don't fsck up your car (very important here in Lawrence) -Keep your kids from getting run over by some hardon -Make sure your kids don't drink piss from the fsckin water fountains

Now, those are some pretty important services. And you want to screw those people?

KaraGourley 5 years, 5 months ago

consumer1 (Anonymous) says…

qb2 I guess I should have specified. The cops definately deserve More money. Fire fighters… Ehhhhh???? Suck it up and quit watching so many soap opera's

If you got that I was referencing just cops your 100% wrong. Actually I was more directing my comment towards firefighters. LA_Ex says it perfectly. These guys don't just sit around waiting for some alarms to go off.. I know enough firefighters in this town that have families at home .. YOUNG families and they come home exhausted after being up over half the night running calls and then help with their families at home during the day. They deserve their wages.

gogoplata 5 years, 5 months ago

Police and firemen are some of the lowest paid professional jobs out there, not to mention having the risk of being burned alive or shot. How many of you would run into a burning building, or confront one of the fine patrons of Club 821? If you ever have a fire, a heart attack, or are victim of a crime, I want you to look a fireman or policeman in the eye and tell them “I don't think you deserve cost of living raises.” You hide behind your keyboard and berate those whose duty it is to serve you.

My most recent run in with the tax feeders was last winter when a barney pulled me over for having a tag light out and kept me there for 10 minutes while he played with himself in the car. I have 0 respect for many like him. They wouldn't have jobs if it were not for people with real jobs. I can do without them. Much of what they do could be handled better by the free market anyway.

gogoplata 5 years, 5 months ago

Yea right, you have to be highly trained to watch for burned out tag lights. Go get them Barneys!

dragonfly0221 5 years, 5 months ago

Most are not fully aware that firefighters and police officers starting with the city of Lawrence, supporting a family of four on their own qualify for free or reduced lunches. Also they are required to buy their own equipment it is not provided for them. Also there seems to be some miss understanding of the real issue here.

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