Fact-finder's report leans in favor of police union

April 20, 1993|By Alisa Samuels | Alisa Samuels,Staff Writer

A fact-finder, siding closely with the county police union, said Monday that police should receive a cost of living increase this year and should not work a new schedule that could add 25 work days a year.

His report, a nonbinding opinion, was sought last week after contract negotiations between the police union and county officials stalled.

"We're happy with the finding," said Dale L. Hill, president of the Howard County Police Association. "We believe it's a fair decision.

"We hope the executive abides by the decision so we won't have any further problems," he added.

County Executive Charles I. Ecker said he hadn't read the finding yesterday and would have to review it before commenting.

The fact-finder, Herbert Fishgold, was brought in April 14 by both sides.

The current contract, expires June 30. No date has been set to resume the negotiations.

Both sides agree that a new cost of living adjustment (COLA) should be given, but disagree on the amount, when it should be given and whether it should be contingent or fixed.

In his opinion yesterday, Mr. Fishgold followed the union's suggestions. He recommended that the officers receive a 1 percent COLA on Oct. 1, plus a minimum 1 percent on Jan. 1, 1994.

The county recommended no COLA until June 30, 1994, when it would give a 3 percent adjustment, but only if there had been a 10 percent increase in income tax revenue from the previous year. If not, county officials said there would be no adjustment.

Officers have not received cost of living increases for the past two years, the union said. "The evidence supports the union's contention that Howard County police officers have fallen behind other employees, both in Howard County, and in other Maryland political jurisdictions," Mr. Fishgold wrote. He said officers' salaries were 6.4 percent below the mean of other county employees and 4.1 percent below the mean of Baltimore, Anne Arundel, Montgomery and Prince George's counties.

He also recommended that the current 219-day work schedule, which includes four straight work days and three days off, should not be changed to a county-proposed schedule that could add 25 additional work days.

A longer schedule could affect the officers' secondary employment, day care and transportation expenses, and personal and family time, the union argued.

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