On Wednesday a ruling was posted by the Public Employment Relations Board involving the arbitration decision for a collective bargaining agreement with the Kendall Club police union, covering the years 2016 and 2017. The arbitration panel was formed after the city and the union reached an impasse in contract negotiations.
The ruling included a 2 percent salary increase for all police officers for each of those two years. The panel also ruled that members of the union shall pay 19 percent toward the total monthly premium for health and dental insurance and any employee or retiree who doesn’t participate in the city’s voluntary health and wellness program will see their premiums payment set at 26 percent, effective Dec. 31, 2017. The arbitration panel also unanimously ruled that effective January 1, 2016 all employees who have completed 17 years of service shall receive longevity payment of $3,000 per year thereafter.
As part of the pay-raise issue, the arbitration ruling also stated that the retroactive raise must be made to the members no later than Dec. 15, 2018.
WRFA reached out to the mayor and city Comptroller Joe Bellitto on Thursday morning asking what impact the ruling would have on city finances moving forward. On Friday afternoon, the city sent out the following statement to all regional media and attributed to city attorney Marilyn Fiore-Lehman:
The City of Jamestown has received the Arbitration Award issued in the Compulsory Interest Arbitration matter between the City of Jamestown and the Kendall Club Police Benevolent Association. The City is in the process of reviewing the award and calculating the anticipated costs and the potential impact on past, current and future budget years. The City is also reviewing all of its legal options with respect to the award. The City does not wish to comment further with respect to this award until such time as staff and legal counsel have had an adequate opportunity to fully discuss and brief the Jamestown City Council regarding all aspects of the award. The next opportunity staff and legal counsel will have to discuss the matter jointly with the Mayor and City Council members in executive session will be at the meeting scheduled for October 29, 2018. Until that time, all inquiries regarding this matter should be directed to the Office of Corporation Counsel.
The arbitration decision not only has an impact on the police union, but may also weigh in on the city firefighters union (Jamestown Professional Firefighters Association), which is also without a contract and has not had one in place since the end of 2015. Typically the firefighters’ contract and any related changes to salaries and/or benefits is similar, if not identical, to the one given the police union.