Tulsa FOP wins arbitration battle

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Tulsa's police union won their contract arbitration with the City of Tulsa today, as an arbitration panel selected the Fraternal Order of Police's proposal over that of city management, resolving a lengthy contract impasse for the current fiscal year, which began last July, according to a press release today from Philip Evans, president of the Tulsa FOP Lodge #93:

On Thursday February 19, 2009 an Arbitration Panel jointly chosen by the City of Tulsa and Fraternal Order of Police Lodge 93, notified us they had resolved the labor contract for the parties for this fiscal year. The Panel selected the contract offer of the FOP after three days of hearings and submission of financial and other evidence. By law the Panel had to select either the FOP package offer on all issues or City management's.

The hearing was governed by Oklahoma law that requires the arbitration procedure to resolve labor impasses instead of a strike by officers. The impasse was over several terms of the labor contract that runs from July 1, 2008 through June 30, 2009. The Panel's decision is retroactive to July 1, 2008.

The primary issues in the impasse involved wages, health insurance, drug testing and take home cars. On wages the City offered 2% effective July 1, 2008 where the FOP offer was 3% but effective on January 1, 2009. The FOP offer actually cost less over the fiscal year. Tulsa officers' compensation still remains far behind the average of other comparable cities, including Oklahoma City.

On health insurance, the FOP offer was to receive the same insurance contributions that all other City employees get. City proposed to reduce the insurance contributions for police to the level other City employees received four years ago. The Panel found that the City already agreed in the contract to pay the police at the same level as other employees and that there was "no financial or policy basis to pay a lower amount for its Police Officers."

Another issue was drug testing. The FOP proposal requires all officers to undergo random testing and the Panel adopted that proposal when it selected the FOP offer.

Take home cars were also addressed by the Panel. That benefit was extended by agreement in July, 2005 to officers who live within 25 miles of 41st and Yale. Since that time it has been continued in labor contracts by Mayor Taylor and the City Council. The Panel cited the research regarding the increased police presence on the streets when officers commute and the fact the benefit helps attract qualified police applicants. The FOP had offered to pay for the benefit but that offer was rejected by City management who wanted more. When gas prices fell below 2005 levels, the FOP withdrew the offer. The Panel found the City failed to prove there were cost factors or public policy reasons for taking away the benefit. The decision means the benefit will remain the same for the rest of the fiscal year.

Based on testimony by Mike Kier, the City Finance Director, the Panel found that both the General Fund and the Police budget could absorb any additional costs of the FOP offer out of fuel savings alone.

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This page contains a single entry by Michael Bates published on February 19, 2009 5:18 PM.

Roemerman on the Public Works scandal was the previous entry in this blog.

Municipal candidate training in Tulsa, Feb. 28 is the next entry in this blog.

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