The Springfield Police Patrolmen’s Association has sued the city of Springfield over a contract dispute involving uniform allowances not being paid to recently retired police officers.
The contract between the SPPA and the city states newly-hired and retired patrol officers will receive two payments of $500 each year as a uniform allowance, according to the lawsuit. The payments were expected to be delivered in April and October, said SPPA President Chris Armstrong.
The city was prorating payments for new officers and not paying the recently retired employees, according to Armstrong.
The city has used the same process for uniform allowances for many years with no complaints, Springfield Law Director Strozdas said.
After a grievance process was exhausted earlier this year, the city and the union entered into arbitration over uniform allowances. In June, an arbitrator ruled in favor of the patrolmen, awarding allowances to all officers that were hired and completed their probationary period or who retired by Aug. 8 of last year.
The city paid for the allowances for the current officers, but refused to pay for the uniform allowances for retired officers, Armstrong said. About four officers have retired since last August, Armstrong said, meaning some are owed different amounts of money, but it’s unclear how much.
The police union filed the complaint on Oct. 14. The city denied many of the allegations in an answer to the complaint on Oct. 30.
The arbitration addressed the newly-hired officers, but not the retired employees, said Strozdas.
“The arbitrator said we should pay (new employees uniform allowances) differently, and we have and that’s fine,” Strozdas said. “The way they want us to do it for the retired employees was not something that was addressed in the arbitration or the award.”
The lawsuit asks the court to grant an order confirming the award.
“We’re just waiting to see if a judge agrees with the arbitrator,” Armstrong said. “I think the contract language is pretty clear.”
After the first year of employment, officers are required to pay and care for uniforms and equipment, such as boots, shirts, gloves and other items, Armstrong said. The only city-issued equipment includes firearm, vest and radio, he said.
“The equipment we have to buy is very expensive,” Armstrong said.
The union, which has about 90 members, is disappointed it had to sue the city to seek the money, he said.
“They have good faith in the city that they would honor that contract,” Armstrong said.