City, Police reach contract agreement

The City of Oneida and the John R. Deschamps, Sr., Police Benevolent Association (PBA) have agreed upon a one-year contract for calendar year 2009. The contract provides for a 4 percent cost of living adjustment in the salary schedule, as well as an increase in compensation for investigators. Other changes include adopting language consistent with the city's contract with the Civil Service Employees Association and the Oneida Paid Firefighters Association with respect to certain health insurance co-pays; time off for union official business, subject to staffing requirements for shifts; and cleaning up some obsolete language in the prior contract.

Mayor Peter Hedglon pointed out that the salary schedules for patrol officers and investigators could result in a patrol officer taking a pay cut to become an investigator. This made it more difficult to fill the investigator position and increased training expenses for investigator positions, because it was advantageous for investigators to return to patrol as a sergeant. With the adjustment of investigators salaries, it is expected that turnover and training expense for these positions will be reduced.

Mayor Hedglon noted that negotiations began in 2008 prior to the current economic meltdown and crisis. "Both the city and the PBA took into account the current economic situation, as well as the fact that, for right now, the city is in a relatively good position for the 2009 fiscal year" Hedglon stated. "I believe that the city and the PBA agreed on a one-year contract so that we both can see what develops with respect to sales tax receipts and state aid. I don't think either the city or the PBA wanted to lock into a multi-year contract in light of the economic uncertainties we now face" Hedglon said.

Hedglon noted that either the city or the PBA could have insisted that economic issues be submitted to binding arbitration. Hedglon said "it appears that neither the city nor the PBA wanted to take issues to arbitration in light of the significant costs involved with arbitration and the uncertainty about how the Public Employee Relations Board arbitrators will deal with the economic situation."

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