The city’s police patrol officers union rejected a fact finder’s nonbinding contract proposal 98-0 with its union president questioning Youngstown’s negotiating tactics and if it values its police force.
“The rejection kind of speaks for itself,” said officer Mike Anderson, president of the 113-member Youngstown Police Association. “The membership as a whole sees [the city’s contract offer] as how the city feels about the officers.”
The city proposed a wage freeze for all three years of the proposed contract while the union asked for 3 percent annual raises.
Dennis M. Byrne of Munroe Falls, the fact finder, recommended a 1 percent raise this year, the same increase received by other unions in 2016, and no pay raises for 2017 and 2018.
City officials told Byrne, according to his 32-page report, that Youngstown “will be in a deficit by 2017.” Byrne added “the evidence in the record shows that the city of Youngstown faces severe financial problems. There is little prospect of a significant increase in revenues, which means the city must find ways to curtail expenditures or it will face a situation where it must institute layoffs.”
Anderson told The Vindicator on Monday: “I believe, as most everyone who works for the city, that the city has weathered the economic downturn that occurred in 2008 and eight years later, the city is continually trying to get this union to make more concessions that aren’t needed. For the city, [concessions] are never enough. It’s always more and more.”
The two sides will go to a state conciliator who will make a binding decision on a three-year contract.
A conciliator settled the last contract dispute in April 2014.
The union had worked without a contract since Nov. 30, 2012, before that deal was signed.
Asked about Anderson’s comments, Mayor John A. McNally said, “We look forward to once again presenting our case to the conciliator, and we’ll live with the result. In terms of concessions, it’s time this union accepts the same language other unions are living under.”
The union, working without a contract since Nov. 30, 2015, met Thursday to vote on rejecting Byrne’s proposal. A letter was sent Monday to the city and the State Employment Relations Board from Daniel J. Leffler, the union’s representative and a North Royalton attorney, about the vote.
The union’s rejection doesn’t come as a surprise as Byrne’s proposal largely sided with the city.
For a fact-finder’s recommendation to be accepted, both sides must agree with it.
While acknowledging the officers’ annual starting salary of $30,000 is among the worst in the Mahoning Valley, Byrne wrote the city couldn’t afford it and to increase it “would lead to a ripple effect on wages throughout the city.”
The top of the pay sale, $55,751 annually, is among the highest in the area, Byrne said.
The union wants to reduce the years it takes to get to the top of the pay scale. During a previous contract, the union agreed to increase that time from four years to 12.
The report also sides with the city on hiring part-time officers when staffing of patrol officers is at 107 full-timers. The current contract allows part-timers when there are 125 full-time officers. There are currently 113 full-time patrol officers.
The proposal kept the union members contributing 10 percent of their monthly health-care premiums, but removed monetary caps of $80 for single coverage and $150 for family coverage effective July 1.
“This would be the second contact in which the officers would be making less money than the previous one,” said Anderson, pointing out the elimination of caps would cost officers more money.