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Police union responds to city, demands to bargain impact of layoffs
Posted By Staff On September 30, 2009 @ 10:10 am In Online Exclusives | No Comments
Editor’s note: Following is a letter from Doug Block, Police Benevolent & Protective Association of Illinois Unit 6 labor representative, to City of Rockford Legal Director Patrick Hayes regarding the city’s proposal that eight Rockford police officers to be laid off.
The PBPA included 2008 pay raise information for 35 positions that are non-union, exempt or department heads. The union believes the pay raises should be reviewed for 2006 through 2008 for potential violations of the City Personnel Code, which provides a maximum of 4 percent merit/bonus raise in addition to a “cost of living” raise approved by the City Council.
Response to City and Union Demands to Bargain Impact of Layoffs
In response to the September 17, 2009, City Demand to Bargain as a result of the announced layoff of 8 police officers, and not hiring to replace the 13 vacant police officer positions, the Union proposes to discuss the items identified in this proposal during the contract negotiation session scheduled for this Thursday, October 1, 2009, at 1:00 p.m.
1. Transfer 2 Recruiters from recruiting duties and place into the Traffic Division for operational duties.
a. The 2 Recruiters would be allowed to transfer back into the investigator assignments they had prior to being assigned to the Recruiting Office as well as being able to “bump” into an investigator assignment if there are less senior investigators already assigned to that position.
b. The administration shall request volunteers for the Traffic Division.
c. If there are insufficient volunteers the administration shall reassign the most junior investigator(s) determined by the investigators promotional date
d. Any investigators that are displaced as a result of the 2 Recruiters being reassigned shall be able to “bump” into positions held by less senior investigators as determined by the investigators promotional date.
e. The 2 Recruiters currently assigned to the Recruiting Office will be the first offered the positions whenever administration decides to staff the Recruiting Office in the future.
2. Transfer the Patrol Officer position in the Traffic Division back to the Patrol Division. Patrol and Traffic Division personnel will take the duties.
a. The patrol officer currently assigned to the Traffic Division will be reassigned to the Patrol Division.
b. The Traffic Division personnel will take the duties previously assigned to the patrol officer.
c. If administration decides to assign a patrol officer to resume the duties already being done by the patrol officer currently assigned – the administration shall offer the assignment to that patrol officer first.
3. Eliminate the afternoon and midnight patrol officers at the front desk. The desk will be staffed by the Civilian Report Writers from 7:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m. on weekdays and from 7:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. on weekends. The Desk will not be staffed from 9p – 7a every day. The outside entrance (Elm Street) will have an intercom and camera, which the Shift Commander can use to communicate fro any walk-up assistance during 9p – 7a. The Shift Commander can call an Area Squad to assist if needed.
a. The Union is opposed to this idea. There have been numerous incidents throughout the years when a victim was being pursued by a suspect and the victim came to the Public Safety Building (PSB) for help and to get away from the person(s) that have, or are attempting, to, harm them. The administration should be able to review past workers compensation claims for several of these incidents as officers working the Front Desk have been injured when becoming involved in some of these incidents.
b. During the cold months of the year transients stay near the PSB and at times have accosted individuals seeking police assistance at the PSB.
c. During the cold months of the year the PSB has been a cold weather shelter and ill individuals have required medical attention. Police officers have checked the welfare of such individuals in the past during their stay at the PSB. If no one staffs the Front Desk at the PSB then an individual may die due to not having been checked on while staying at the PSB.
d. There is no assurance of a quick response time for an Area Squad whenever an urgent incident occurs such as when someone is being chased or attacked.
e. State law designates police stations as “safe havens” under the Abandoned Newborn Infant Protection Act. The Act grants immunity from criminal prosecution if a parent of an infant safely abandons their infant(s) within 72 hours of birth with personnel at designated “safe havens” which are police stations, fire stations, hospitals and medical emergency facilities. Although one could argue the parent leaving the baby should not have done so if they simply pushed the buzzer for the Shift Commander and then left without speaking with the Shift Commander thinking the baby would be seen on camera – if something were to happen to the infant the Union feels it would be difficult for the public, as well as fellow police officers, to understand. The Union does not want any individual, including infants, children, teenagers, adults or the elderly to be injured or receive further harm when they arrive at the PSB seeking help.
In addition to the City proposals listed above the Union is willing to discuss the following ideas on October 1, 2009, as part of the contract negotiations. The Union believes the proposals are needed to ensure the safety of the public, property and officers based on the administration’s decision to not fill current vacancies and to layoff eight (8) officers. The Union proposals would also include temporary cost savings to the City. Additionally, the State has authorized the release of 1,000 inmates in the near future. In the past the Rockford parole office has received many released inmates that are not from the Rockford area. It is unknown how many of these inmates will be residing in the immediate Rockford area.
NOTE: Any proposal that involves a stipend or transfer from a special unit back to a patrol shift or the Traffic Unit would be done with the understanding of the parties that all current officers in the special unit and/or receiving a stipend would automatically be reassigned to the special unit, or a similar Unit, when administration determines it is able to sustain that unit or a similar one and would also receive the stipend once again (unless stated otherwise in this proposal). Any transfer of officers would actually occur during the January 2010 changeover unless otherwise indicated in this proposal.
The Union also requests the City conduct a financial analysis on the savings for the year 2010 that any suspension of a stipend entitlement would save the City if the transfer and stipends were done on the changeover in January 2010 unless a different effective date is indicted
1. M-3 Unit : Transfer all the officers currently assigned to the M-3 Unit back to the Patrol Division and the officers would be included in the annual shift bidding process for a patrol shift.
2. Community Services Unit : Transfer all the officers currently assigned to the Community Services Unit back to the Patrol Division and the officers would be included in the annual shift bidding process for a patrol shift.
3. IT Section : Transfer the Traffic Investigator that is currently assigned to the IT section of the department back to the Traffic Division.
a. The Traffic Investigator was only to be temporarily assigned to the IT Section but has been there for several years. The Union wishes to point out the Traffic Commander had been told the transfer would only be temporary, when it occurred several years ago, and the investigator’s position was not filled.
b. The administration could consider replacing the Traffic Investigator in the IT Section with a civilian employee that would earn much less salary based on the salaries of the current civilian IT employees. According to the data the Union has reviewed it would appear the Traffic Investigator assigned to the IT Section has cost the City significantly more than any civilian employees assigned to any of the IT Sections for the City of Rockford and the Rockford Police Department.
c. The Union is aware of several potential retirements in the near future which would create openings for Traffic Investigators. Thus the department will be in need of replacing one or more Traffic Investigators.
d. The current civilian employees in the IT Section should be able to function without the assistance of the Traffic Investigator as they have been in the unit for several years and should have the knowledge required to work on police related issues.
e. The Traffic Investigator would be transferred back to the Traffic Unit on the first day of the first full pay period in October 2009.
f. The Traffic Investigator would be permitted to bid in the annual shift bidding process for the 2010 shift assignments for the Traffic Unit. The time the investigator actually worked in the Traffic Unit would be considered for basis of seniority in that unit for the bidding process. The time assigned to the IT Section will not be included as seniority in the Traffic Unit. The use of past seniority in the Traffic Unit shall apply only for this one time situation
4. Field Training Officer (FTO) Program: The Union is willing to discuss the suspension of paying the officers who have been designated as an FTO the stipend they currently receive for being an FTO. The Union requests the City conduct an analysis on the savings for this year and for 2010 that any suspension of the stipend entitlement would save the City effective the first full pay period in October. All current officers would automatically be re-designated as an FTO a minimum of 45 calendar days prior to the Department hiring new officers or hiring back any officer that may be laid off. The timing of the suspension of stipends would be on the first day of a full pay period in the month of October 2009.
5. Accreditation Unit: Transfer the accreditation duties to the Records Division:
a. Both Chief Nielsen and Chief Pugh discussed their plans for accreditation with the Union. Both had stated accreditation would not be a financial burden to the Department and once the Department was accredited the functions required for maintaining accreditation would be transferred from a sworn officer to a civilian employee under the direction of the Records Division supervisor.
b. The patrol officer currently assigned to the Accreditation Unit would be transferred back to the Patrol Division and the officer would be included in the annual shift bidding process for a patrol shift.
c. The Traffic Investigator assigned to the Accreditation Unit would be permitted to bid in the annual shift bidding process for the 2010 shift assignments for the Traffic Unit. The time the investigator actually worked in the Traffic Unit would be considered for basis of seniority in that unit for the bidding process. The time assigned to the Accreditation Unit will not be included as seniority in the Traffic Unit. The use of past seniority in the Traffic Unit shall apply only for this one time situation.
d. The officers would be transferred back to the Patrol Division and Traffic Unit on the date of changeover in January 2010.
e. The Union requests the City conduct an analysis on the savings for eliminating any stipend entitlement paid to the officers assigned to the Accreditation Unit effective on the changeover date in January 2010.
f. Based on recent events the administration may want to reconsider participating in the accreditation program
6. “All Terrain Vehicle” (ATV) Unit : The Union is willing to discuss the suspension of paying the officers who have been designated as ATV officers any stipends they currently receive for being designated an ATV officer.
a. The timing of the suspension of stipends would be on the first day of a full pay period in the month of October 2009.
b. The Department would not be able to utilize the ATV’s until such time all current ATV officers begin to receive their stipend and administration determines it can sustain reactivation of the Unit.
c. The current officers assigned to the ATV Unit would automatically be reassigned to the ATV Unit when administration determines it is able to sustain the Unit once again.
7. Internal Affairs : The City is aware the Union had filed a Demand to Bargain over the assignment of a bargaining member to the Internal Affairs Unit. Administration agreed to reassign the bargaining member by specific dates but has continually requested extensions which the Union agreed to. The Union has been told the employee would definitely be reassigned by the end of September 2009. The Union will be expecting the employee to be reassigned no later than October 5, 2009.
8. Illinois Law Enforcement Alarm System (ILEAS) : The Union believes the Department should discontinue its participation in the ILEAS program.
a. It has come to the attention of the Union the Department may not be honoring its obligations as a member of ILEAS as well as possibly violating the departmental General Orders pertaining to ILEAS. If this is the case administration should consider withdrawing from the ILEAS program.
b. Although the Union has been told the State of Illinois reimburses the Department all costs incurred for sending an officer to support another agency or training, including payment of any overtime incurred to hire back another officer to fill the ILEAS member’s workdays, the Department has reportedly not been sending sufficient officers to fill the need of the other agencies.
c. The Department supposedly receives funds to purchase equipment and other items for participating in the ILEAS program. If the Department is not honoring its commitments it most likely should not be accepting funds to purchase equipment, or other items, to be used for other situations by the Department. The administration should review the expenditures of funds received for participating in the ILEAS program to ensure it was legally spent.
d. In addition to the above, the Union believes it may be in the best interest of the City to discontinue participation in the ILEAS program as the officers assigned would not miss any workdays to train for an ILEAS response or be dispatched to assist another agency. This would result in less work scheduling challenges for the Department…
9. Mentoring Program : The Union has been advised the Department may be assigning an officer to the Illinois State Police Academy as a mentor or staff member.
a. As the patrol shifts have been operating with less than the number of officers normally scheduled, and it is difficult for officers to be granted use of their compensatory time, the Union believes it would be in the best interest of the Department to end its participation in such a program.
b. With the announcement by the Mayor that 8 officers are to be laid off on October 2, 2009, and the current 13 vacancies are not to be filled, and at least three senior officers have announced their retirements in the next few months, the Union does not see the value to continue assigning a police officer to the State Police Academy as the Department will not have any recruits to send.
10. Day Cover Shift : The City has expressed a desire to form a Day Cover Shift to better handle calls for service and has indicated such a shift could possibly reduce overtime for a potential savings to the Department. The Union proposes:
a. The administration will offer 4 patrol shifts for the annual shift bidding process. The Day, Afternoon and Night patrol shifts and a Day Cover Shift with a starting time of 9 a.m. and an ending time of 7 p.m.
b. The Day Cover shift would be effective on the changeover date in January 2010.
c. As the Day Cover Shift officers will be working a minimum of 3 hours when the Afternoon Shift is scheduled to work, the Day Cover Shift officers will receive a shift differential of .30 cents per hour added to their hourly rate of pay.
d. The Day Cover Shift would be under the direct supervision of the Day Shift Commander.
e. The officers assigned to the Day Cover Shift would have their requests for all leave time, absences, training, etc., approved by the Day Shift supervisors in accordance to the guidelines for the Day Shift.
f. STAFFING : The parties agree to discuss the guidelines for the number of officers to be assigned to the Day Shift, Afternoon Shift, Night Shift and the Day Cover Shift. Said guidelines will also include, but are not limited to, the number of officers permitted to be on vacation during the various “prime time” and “non-prime time” periods of the year, and the number of officers that would be permitted off with compensatory use throughout the year.
11. Bike Officers/Use of the Bicycles : As long as the M-3 and Community Services Units are not staffed the Department cannot order any officer to perform their duties while riding a bicycle. Officers designated as certified to perform their duties while riding a bicycle would normally be paid a stipend. As the Union is proposing suspensions of the various stipends normally paid to officers that are certified to ride a bicycle the Department cannot utilize bicycles.
1. Feasibility Study for a Metro Law Enforcement Agency : The Union has raised the idea in the past for disbanding the Rockford Police Department in lieu of a county wide law enforcement agency that would provide law enforcement services to the citizens of Rockford as well as the entire county.
a. The Union proposes the City form a joint committee with the County that would include Union representatives to study the feasibility for a Metro Law Enforcement Agency.
b. The committee would review metro agencies that currently exist in the United States as well as which State laws would have to be amended or enacted to form a metro agency.
c. Once the committee has determined it has the proper information and if the committee decides it would be in the best interest of the citizens throughout the county it would seek a referendum to form a metro agency
2. Tax Increment Financing Districts (TIF’s) : The Union proposes the City stop creating TIF Districts for the following reasons:
a. With each TIF district the City creates there is a decline in revenue for the City as the property taxes collected for the TIF area are frozen with any new taxes going into the TIF District fund.
b. The City sells bonds to finance projects for the TIF Districts with the repayment for the bonds to be paid by any new property taxes received from the TIF District.
c. However, during the budget hearings held at City Hall during either February or March this year the City finance director indicated the City will be obligated to pay for several bond payments for many years as the TIF Districts are not generating enough new tax revenue to make the bond payments.
d. The finance director indicated the TIF District bond payments will have to come from the General Fund and will be several million dollars each year for numerous years.
e. Every dollar spent from the General Fund to make the payments for the TIF District bonds results in less funds for other City needs such as personnel and equipment.
f. The City has a plan to make a large portion of East State Street a TIF District as well as the Broadway area. Both TIF Districts include hundreds of residential buildings as well as commercial properties. If allowed to be created, the City will not receive any new property tax revenue for 15-30 years from these areas. However, the City is still obligated to provide public services to all areas of the City that are, or will be, TIF Districts without those areas having to contribute new property tax revenue to offset the expenses for the services. The non-TIF District residents will shoulder the burden.
g. There are many recent studies that indicate TIF Districts are no longer the ultimate solution for renewal of decaying or depressed areas of a city. The administration should explore alternative options that would achieve the goals.
3. Recalculate/adjust pay raises provided to non-union and exempt employees as well as all Department Heads: The Union believes administration should review the pay raises given to all non-union, exempt and Department Heads for the years 2006, 2007, and 2008. Once the administration has reviewed the pay raises it should proceed to adjust the raises based the following:
a. The City Personnel Code indicates non-bargaining employees can receive a
maximum of a 4 percent merit or bonus in addition to the cost of living
increase approved by the City Council.
b. Based on information the Union has received from the City it would appear that in addition to a particular individual, that has since voluntarily terminated their employment with the City, there were several other employees that received pay raises in excess of that authorized by the City Personnel Code in the year 2008.
c. The Union also has documentation from the City that indicates similar violations of the Personnel Code may have occurred in the years 2006 and 2007 as well as 2008.
d. The Union believes any pay increases that are greater than that permitted by the City Personnel Code may be illegal and thus any employee covered by the Personnel Code provision and who received pay raises in excess of that permitted by the Personnel Code should have their pay adjusted to come into compliance with the Personnel Code. The adjustment would be for the years 2006, 2007 and 2008.
e. The Personnel Code does provide for exceptions to the 4 percent maximum combined with the cost of living increases approved by the City Council. The Code allows raises greater than the standard if a study has been done that indicates a larger pay raise is appropriate. If there is a determination that an employee should receive a larger pay increase then it must be approved by various City Hall administrators including the Mayor. However, the Union has been told that no such study has been done since the City paid for a study in either 2001 or 2002.
f. Employees that are represented by a union received across the board pay raises of 3.5% in 2006, 3.5% in 2007, and 4% in 2008. Only the AFSCME bargaining members have received a pay raise for 2009 and that was a 4% across the board.
g. In addition to the across the board pay raises, some bargaining members received pay step increases and possibly a 2% longevity increase during one or more of the years 2006 through 2009. The pay step increases and longevity are both tied into the employee’s length of service with the City and or department they regularly work for.
h. Although the bargaining members received the across the board pay raises, and some received pay step increases as well as longevity increases, the Union is not aware of any bargaining member receiving a total pay raise in any given year that are similar to the pay raises given to many non-union employees and Department Heads that were at least 10% or better than $6,000 in 2008 who did not have to bargain for such or go through arbitration.
i. The following are examples of non-bargaining employees and Department Heads pay raises that are at least 10% or a minimum of $6,000 in the year 2008 and do not include the costs of their benefits. It should be noted that many of these individuals’ base salaries were between $70,000 and more than $100,000 prior to their pay raises.
1. CD Neighborhood Development (exempt) $4,784.00 (or 12.54%)
2. Fire Department Admin (exempt) $7,342.40 raise (or 6.11%)
3. Public Works Traffic Admin & Engineer (non-union)
$5,283.20 raise (or 11.90%)
4. Police Patrol Bureau (exempt) $6,281.60 raise (or 6.10%)
5. CD Planning Division (exempt) $8,860.80 raise (or 11.21%)
6. Building Department (exempt) $7,841.60 raise (or 11.41%)
7. Fire 911 Telecommunicator 3 (exempt) $6,094.40 raise (or 6.5%)
8. Human Services CAP 3 (appointed) $7,758.40 raise (or 8.99%)
9. Fire Department Academy (exempt) $7,155.20 raise (or 6.5%)
10. Legal Department (non-union) $4,264.00 (or 15.66%)
11. Police Administration (appointed) $10,753.60 (or 9.16%)
12. Public Works Traffic Admin & Engineer (exempt) $11,960.00 (or 11.61%)
13. Fire Department Admin (exempt) $6,073.60 (or 6.24%)
14. Police Patrol Bureau (exempt) $6,676.80 (or 6.08%)
15. Public Works Admin Services (exempt) $33,384.00 (or 38.11%)
16. Legal Department (appointed) $11,876.80 (or 9.93%)
17. Public Works Engineering Services (exempt) $9,880.00 (or 10.85%)
18. Human Services (appointed) $9,692.80 (or 8.48%)
19. Public Works Water Distribution 3 (non-union) $10,316.80 (or 21.42%)
20. Fire Department Admin (exempt) $7,259.20 (or 6.5%)
21. Public Works Central Garage (exempt) $12,667.20 (or 16.41%)
22. Police Detective Bureau (exempt) $6,947.20 (or 6.08%)
23. Fire Department Admin (exempt) $6,231.68 (or 6.26%)
24. Community Development (appointed) $10,004.80 (or 8.75%)
25. Legal Department (exempt) $6,281.60 (or 6.5%)
26. Police Patrol Bureau (exempt) $6,032.00 (or 5.57%)
27. Public Works Customer Service 3 (exempt) $4,513.60 (or 10.31%)
28. Public Works Water Distribution 3 (non-union) $10,233.60 (or 20.23%)
29. Finance Department (appointed) $10,920.00 (or 8.62%)
30. Community Development (exempt) $6,926.40 (or 14.88%)
31. Fire Prevention Bureau (exempt) $7,342.40 (or 6.11%)
32. Mayor’s Office Staff (appointed) $28,392.00 (or 42.62%)
33. Public Works Street Department (exempt) $9,692.80 (or 18.43%)
34. Fire Department Admin (exempt) $6,348.16 (or 6.37%)
35. Information Technology (appointed) $7,737.60 (or 9.80%)
These are some examples of at least a 10% or more than $6,000 pay raise in 2008 for non-union City employees.
The current administration has been lowering the property tax rates by increasing the costs to the citizens that use the water, sewer, and garbage collection services of the City.
The administration has also increased the tax levies for citizens that have telephone services and increased the fees charged for various permits issued by the City. In addition to the 1% general sales tax the administration passed by referendum it has also extended the 1% Metro Centre sales tax. The Union believes the administration should attempt to leave the property tax rate at its current level if not legally obligated to reduce the rate and discontinue raising user fees.
The lowering of the property tax rate has adversely impacted the citizens that earn less income as the administration has raised user fees that impact low income earning more than higher income earners as does the additional 1% general sales tax and the 1% Metro Centre tax.
The rise in fees is not tax deductible as are property taxes. The Union urges the current administration to consider revising their plans to continually lower the property tax rate by raising user fees.
The Union has noticed the Water Department has been increasing the number of employees that are exempt or non-union as well as permitting numerous pay increases in excess of $6,000 or 10%. The response the Union leadership has received from certain administrative personnel is the Water Department is self sufficient and thus the pay raises and increase in employees is not a burden to the taxpayers. The Union is aware the City is scheduling another water rate increase for 2010. The Union requests the current administration revisit the increasing personnel expenses in the Water Department before voting on a rate increase.
It should be noted the pay increases identified were for only the year 2008. Many, if not all of the employees identified, received similar pay increases in the years 2006 and 2007. The global economy began to suffer the effects of a recession well before the current administration authorized the pay raises for those identified in this letter.
The Union is concerned about the increases in user fees and sales taxes as it may be cause for individuals to not relocate to Rockford and may actually cause some to leave Rockford and thus potentially adding to the economic situation for the City.
4. Sale of Seized Guns : The Union believes the Department has destroyed rifles and handguns that were worth approximately $750,000 in the past year. Some of the weapons were possibly collectibles and worth more than estimated. The Union would propose contracting with a licensed gun dealer to sell weapons that become Department property by order of the courts. The monies raised through the gun sales would then be used by the City as a revenue source. The Union is aware this would be a controversial issue but also knows there are many gun dealers and the sale of guns will occur with or without inventory provided by the Rockford Police Department.
5. Eliminate the second City Administrator : The current administration has added a second City Administrator to the Mayor’s staff in recent years. When the current Mayor ran for office and was first elected he said he would not be attending ribbon cuttings or other similar events because he would be in his office working. The Union believes the Mayor actually should be attending such events as past mayors have. However, the previous mayors were able to handle the public events and their duties without a second City Administrator. The Union does not know if support staff have been added to the Mayor’s Office because of the additional administrator but the budgets appear to provide more staff than the previous administration. If there are additional support staff for the second City Administrator then elimination of those jobs would be additional savings.
The Union leadership has been tasked with continuing to think of potential ways to reduce the costs to the Police Department to avoid any layoffs as well as increasing and maintaining the proper number of street officers to provide for the safety of the citizens, property, and the police officers themselves. Thus the Union may have additional items to discuss when the parties meet for contract negotiations this coming Thursday,
October 1, 2009, at 1 p.m.
The Union would appreciate the City providing the cost savings analysis for the proposals indicated in this letter at least one full day prior to the parties meeting to negotiate on Thursday, October 1, 2009, so the leadership has an opportunity to review the report.
Doug Block, Labor Representative
PBPA Unit 6
From the September 30 – October 6, 2009 issue.
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