Police union files suit over contract talks

April 14, 1994|By Dennis O'Brien | Dennis O'Brien,Sun Staff Writer

The union representing Annapolis police officers has asked the Anne Arundel Circuit Court to order the city to negotiate with the officers and block the city from passing the department's budget until after contract talks are completed.

The suit, filed yesterday, also seeks court costs and at least $10,000 in damages. It alleges that city officials have stalled negotiations with Local 400 of the United Food and Commercial Workers Union, which represents the city's 116 officers.

City officials say they have offered to meet with the union and are ready to bargain.

"This lawsuit is a waste of union resources, a waste of taxpayer dollars and a waste of court time," said Paul G. Goetzke, the city attorney.

George Wiszynski, the union's lawyer, said he will ask the court to hear the case next week.

The suit also says negotiations will be pointless if the city's representatives delay contract talks until after a budget is adopted next month.

"The problem is, if they've already formulated what they're going to do, what's there left to talk about?" said C. James Lowthers, chief union negotiator.

Mr. Lowthers said he had made three telephone calls to Thomas Engleke, the city personnel director, beginning in February. He then made three additional requests to Michael Malinoff, the city administrator, for meeting dates to discuss the contract, he said.

Mr. Lowthers said he stopped making the requests when Mr. Malinoff promised to get back to him in late March.

The suits says the union's attorney faxed a letter to the city attorney April 7 requesting the meetings. As of yesterday, none had been scheduled.

Mr. Goetzke said he received the April 7 letter and responded that day with a letter offering three dates in May for contract talks. Mr. Lowthers never responded, he said.

"We're not trying to stonewall anybody," Mr. Malinoff said yesterday.

Mr. Lowthers said he never received the lawyer's response and that meetings in May would be too late because the city might have adopted its budget by then.

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