The Herald, Sharon, Pa.

December 14, 2013

Bring on the arbitrators

Negotiations between city, police at impasse

By Joe Wiercinski
Herald Staff Writer

SHARON — Now that negotiations have broken down between the union for Sharon police and City Manager Scott Andrejchak, the process to hammer out a new labor contract is headed for arbitration.

“I have recommended arbitration to the city and have communicated that to our attorney,” Andrejchak said Thursday, declining further comment.

Sgt. Jeffrey Wiscott, president of Rose of Sharon Lodge 3, Fraternal Order of Police, was equally tight-lipped about efforts to replace the contract that expires Dec. 31.

“The FOP remains optimistic we can come to a resolution,  and we are open to further discussion on the issues,” he said Friday. “This is a lengthy process and as of this morning we do not have a contract in place for 2014 and beyond.”

Robert L. McTiernan, of Tucker Arensberg, Pittsburgh, is the city’s attorney and arbitrator for the police contract. He said Friday that the police have selected attorney Quintes D. Taglioli, of Markowitz and Richman, Allentown, Pa., as their arbitrator.

They will ask the Philadelphia office of the American Arbitration Association to provide a list of three names to complete the panel that will settle the dispute, McTiernan said.

“We each will strike one name and the remainder is the arbitrator,” McTiernan said.

The panel’s eventual award, requiring two votes for confirmation, will set the terms and date of the contract which is binding on both sides under state Act 111, the law that governs municipal contract negotiations. Until then, police will continue to work under the current contract, he said.

A contract that expired in 2010 was replaced with a three-year agreement. It was worked out with the help of an arbiter to cover 2011-13.

Police last month asked city council to get involved in negotiations they said were at a standstill but council declined to intervene in bargaining talks.

Wiscott attended that council meeting with patrolman Ryan Chmura, vice president of the union that represents 26 city policemen.

Wiscott asked lawmakers to help break the logjam but Vice President Ed Palanski said the city charter requires council to wait for a recommendation from the city manager before council can act.

Wiscott briefly outlined terms being discussed at that time in the proposal that would run from 2014 through 2017.

It called for raises of 2è percent next year, followed by increases of 2 percent, 2è percent and 2 percent.

Wiscott said police, who pay 10 percent of the premium cost for health insurance, were being asked to pay an increase of 1è percent next year, followed by 1 percent, 1è and 1 percent.

That would make policemen’s share of health insurance premiums 15 percent in 2017.

Employees represented by the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees union are on track to pay 15 percent of health insurance premiums. So are nonunion and management city employees.

Wiscott said the FOP wanted those costs capped for police at $80 per pay period.

He added that the union wanted the city to pay health insurance costs for surviving spouses of police who may be killed while on duty.

In addition to any negotiated wage increase, police wanted to reinstate longevity pay – a $100 payment for each year of service up to 20 years or $2,000 for employees hired from Jan. 1, 2008, onward.

That benefit was negotiated out of an earlier contract.