Updated: Arbitrator Ruling in Favor of Police Union Could Cost Toledo $.5 millionWritten by Lisa Renee Ward | | firstname.lastname@example.org
The City of Toledo and the Toledo Police Patrolman’s Association (TPPA) were notified that an arbitration ruling was handed down Feb. 7 in favor of the TPPA, granting each officer impacted four hours of pay per day. The ruling could cost Toledo up to $500,000.
Linda DiLeone Klein, the arbitrator on the case, ruled when the City of Toledo moved police personnel to different permanent shifts when a layoff of police officers took place on May 1, 2009, the city violated the language of the contract that required any changes in permanent non-rotating shifts be compensated for unless a waiver was signed by the officer involved.
Toledo argued that this was a “one-time” basis and was necessary due to the economic situation. Klein said in the ruling that she found the city’s arguments nonpersuasive.
“Compelling evidence of the validity of the Union’s claim that ‘since 1985 the parties have applied permanent in a uniform undisturbed manner’ is found in the absence of examples of the existence of unilateral shift rotations without compensation or examples of the Union accepting a unilateral change in shifts without challenge if the change was to another shift with a permanent schedule.
“Additionally, there was no evidence to suggest that permanent shifts were ever established for less than one calendar year,” wrote Klein in the ruling.
Dan Wagner, president of the TPPA, told Toledo Free Press on Feb. 11 he had tried to negotiate a settlement on more than one occasion with Don Collins, attorney for the City of Toledo.
“We offered four hours sick time in lieu of pay prior to going to hearing and even during the hearing,” Wagner said. The ruling stated the hearing took place Nov. 10.
Wagner said that Mayor Mike Bell had denied any knowledge of settlement offers.
“Someone from Bell’s administration is obviously to blame for not bringing this to the highest level for a decision on that offer, if Bell is being truthful about not knowing about the offer,” Wagner said.
Jen Sorgenfrei, public information officer for the City said in a Feb. 11 e-mail, “The city plans to appeal the arbitration ruling on the grounds that it cannot afford the financial remedy prescribed by the arbitrator. Additionally, the City maintains that it was at the discretion of the Chief and in the interest of public safety to assign officers to the shift, filling vacancies created by the layoffs that occurred in 2009. Had the chief not assigned officers to the shift we would have been missing a third shift safety force – to the detriment of public safety in Toledo.”
Wagner said Bell has to prove that Klein ruled outside her scope of authority.
“It is clear she did not,” Wagner said. “The city appealed two prior arbitration decisions, one related to Local 7 pension pickup and one related to Firefighters’ hydrant inspection. They lost both. Carty (Mayor Finkbeiner) and the Chief were both aware of having to pay the time and a half rate prior to laying off the officers. Navarre testified he believed Carty hated police officers and laid them off not because he needed to but out of spite.”
The TPPA was in negotiations with the City of Toledo during that time period. Wagner said TPPA offered a concessionary package to prevent the layoffs, and Mayor Finkbeiner rejected it.
Feb. 15 Sorgenfrei provided a written portion of the Nov. 10 testimony made by Navarre to Toledo Free Press.
The transcript shows Navarre stated several times he had discussions with Wagner about the time and a half contract requirement with TPPA and made comments on the relationship between Mayor Finkbeiner and the Police Department.
At one point in the testimony Navarre said, “…I had to fight with the Mayor to allow us to call people back. And it was almost like he was backed into a corner and he had no excuse to not bring them back, but he still did not want to bring them back, but I fully expected him because of the bad relations between him and the police, without mentioning any particulars …”
A written comment by Navarre to Wagner from May 15, 2009, was referenced where Navarre reportedly said, “If I move these guys to a shift other than what they selected, I’m going to have to pay them time and a half.”
Navarre acknowledged in the testimony he made the statement to Wagner and to Mayor Finkbeiner. He said, …”I was trying to persaude the Mayor not to do these layoffs and this was just one more item that I used. Dan was aware of that because I communicated that to him.”
The relationship with Mayor Finkbeiner and the police union was referenced several times during the transcript. Navarre said there were times during the 2009 negotiations that “it got very hostile.” Exchanges in the media between the Mayor and Wagner were referenced. Navarrre said that did not help the situation. He was asked if the Mayor held grudges on those types of issues, Navarre said, “I don’t know about that, you’ll have to ask him.”
He was asked, “You would agree as you indicated there were bad relations with the Police Department and the Mayor, correct? Navarre said, “Well, and I’m not directing that towards the police union. I guess I would never categorize this Mayor as pro police, I mean it is what it is.”
A total dollar amount on the award has not yet been calculated. The city and TPPA have conflicting numbers on how many officers were impacted by the change in shifts, but it’s estimated to be $400,000 to $500,000. The City of Toledo lists 55 names and 2,952 hours; the TPPA listed 60 officers. Klein directed both parties in her ruling to “jointly examine the records of all of those employees impacted by the change in question in order to accurately determine their respective entitlements.”
She awarded four hours pay for each day each officer was unilaterally assigned to other than his/her permanent nonrotating shift. TPPA also sought attorney’s fees. Klein did not grant them that as part of the ruling.