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December 11, 2012

Board of works rules against police union

Drainage project for Armstrong Bend set for next week

NEW ALBANY — The New Albany Board of Works and Public Safety unanimously denied Tuesday a grievance claim filed by the Fraternal Order of Police Lodge No. 99.

The complaint alleged New Albany Police Chief Sherri Knight failed to follow the union’s contract with the city when staffing the second police shift on Nov. 11.

According to local union president and NAPD Sgt. John Hall, Knight assigned officers from different shifts to fill-in for cops who were attending an out-of-town training session.

Knight should have used the department’s overtime call-in list to adequately staff the shift instead of arbitrarily assigning officers, Hall said.

The contract states the police chief “shall use the call-in list” when staffing for a shift which falls to less than five officers, Hall said. The use of the word shall means the section supersedes any other language in the contract regarding staffing adjustments, he continued.

But City Attorney Stan Robison and NAPD administration countered that the staffing level never dropped to less than five officers because other cops were assigned to the shift two months prior to the date in question.

NAPD Assistant Chief Greg Pennell said “the shift didn’t fall short” because other officers were scheduled to work, therefore there wasn’t a need to use the overtime list.

Robison added that Knight slated the schedule change well in advance of the shift.

“She looked ahead and she scheduled accordingly,” Robison said just before requesting the grievance be denied.

The board — which is comprised of mayoral appointments — voted 3-0 to deny the grievance. The complaint was first presented to the body last month, but action had been delayed for further review.

The city remains in a debate with the union over the payment of $300,000 in retroactive salary increases for 2010 through 2012.

An arbiter ruled in favor of the union last month, but Robison has questioned whether his decision can force the city to fund the requests.

The union is seeking a 4 percent cost-of-living increase for this year, as well as the award of a salary stipend and transfer of holiday pay to base pay labor officials said was promised in 2010 and 2011 under former Mayor Doug England.

Union representatives are scheduled to meet with Mayor Jeff Gahan next week.

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