Cops file complaints against La Center

first_imgThe La Center Police Officers Association filed two unfair labor practices complaints this month against the city. Both complaints were filed with the state Public Employment Relations Commission and allege the city didn’t give the union a chance to negotiate before changing policies. The city and union are already facing an arbitration hearing to settle the terms of the officers’ new contract after more than a year of negotiations failed. The officers are working under the terms of the previous three-year contract, which expired Dec. 31, 2009. That hearing has not yet been scheduled.The first complaint alleges the city cancelled its take-home vehicle program for police sergeants without providing the union with an opportunity to negotiate. The second alleges the city again didn’t give the union a chance to negotiate when it changed its disciplinary procedures, drug and alcohol testing, and tenure. The changes were made when the city council adopted an employee policy manual this summer.“The city hopes to resolve both the (unfair labor practices complaints) and union negotiations in an amicable and timely manner,” Finance Director Suzanne Levis said. “We want to take care of our employees while still being fiscally responsible to our citizens.”Neither the local union representative nor the union’s attorney responded to a request for comment.According to the complaint, when the city terminated its take-home vehicle program in September, it violated the union’s right to bargain. The city, however, argues the union contract gives the city the authority to change that policy. The contract says “the city council reserves the right to revoke at any time the use of city-owned vehicles for any purpose other than official city business,” the city said in its written response to the complaint.In October 2008, the city passed a resolution allowing police sergeants to take vehicles home. This October, the council passed another resolution to revoke the policy. When the council first approved the policy, the city had only one police sergeant, who lived more than 25 miles outside of city limits. The sergeant was on-call 24 hours a day. Since then, the city created a second police sergeant position, which was filled by someone who lives just outside city limits and can respond to emergencies, according to the resolution rescinding the policy.last_img

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