Baltimore police union at standstill in contract talks with city

July 04, 1996|By Peter Hermann | Peter Hermann,SUN STAFF

Contract talks between Police Department commanders and the union representing Baltimore officers are at a standstill as negotiators struggle over pay, sick days and floating holidays.

The contract that expired Monday has been extended 30 days. But the two sides have not met since Friday, and no further talks have been scheduled. The force has 3,200 officers.

Officer Gary McLhinney, president of Fraternal Order of Police Lodge 3, said prospects for a quick settlement appear grim. "We're exploring all our options to see legally what we can do and force the city into giving their police officers an acceptable contract," he said.

Sam Ringgold, a Police Department spokesman, would not comment. "We will not negotiate the contract in the media," he said.

The department's head negotiator, Col. Joseph R. Bolesta, chief of the human resources bureau, also would not comment on specifics. But he said he is "very anxious to sit down with [the union] again. I don't know when that's going to be."

According to union newsletters handed out to officers, the key issues are medical leave and the five floating leave days, called K-days, that each officer has off every year. The leave days were given to officers five years ago in lieu of a pay raise, which the city had promised.

According to union documents, the department wants to eliminate the leave days, prohibit officers from carrying their weapons while working on second jobs outside the city and eliminate the unlimited medical leave policy, one of the most liberal in the country.

Commissioner Thomas C. Frazier recently cracked down on abuse of the policy after determining that an average of 200 officers were not showing up for work each day.

The department's proposal also would limit new officers to one vacation day per month and impose unspecified restrictions on vacations for officers already on the force.

The department proposal does not include a pay raise. Other city employees are not receiving pay increases. In 1994, officers approved a two-year contract with a 5 percent raise the first year and 3.5 percent the next.

McLhinney said that if the city is not prepared to offer pay raises, it should at the very least preserve other benefits, such as the liberal medical leave, as compensation.

One union newsletter complains that officers will gain nothing from the department's proposal. "So far, all the police commissioner wants is take-backs," it reads.

Pub Date: 7/04/96

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