POLC Attorney, Brendan Canfiel...
HOLLY, Michigan – A wage concession agreement between members of the Holly police department and village administrators didn’t quite come to fruition last week after negotiations on the matter stalled, prompting members of Holly’s Police Officer Labor Council (POLC) to enlist the help of their attorney, Brendan Canfield.
Canfield spoke to the issue during the public comment segment of the June 26 Village Council meeting.
The original agreement which was struck during the June 5 special Village Council meeting included voluntary 2-percent wage concessions on the part of Holly police officers, in return for council’s willingness to dip into the village’s Capital Improvement fund for the $13,176 needed to spare the layoff of a second police officer, and to balance the 2012-2013 budget.
On Tuesday, Canfield addressed the “union side of the discussion” between POLC representative, Officer Craig Simpson, and Village Manager, Jerry Walker.
“Mr. Walker told Officer Craig Simpson that if the union would not agree to wage concessions on the village’s terms, that not only would there be a layoff of a full time officer, but that the dispatch center would be disbanded and contracted out to Oakland County,” Canfield said. “Now that was news to us because I recently reviewed your minutes, and from reading them, it appears that layoffs and the contracting out of the dispatch center was an ‘either/or’ proposition – it didn’t appear that Village Council was considering both.” From his discussions with Simpson, Canfield said it was his understanding that following the June 5 special meeting, Village Council members had already made arrangements to retain the officer, and the dispatch center. “We were slightly surprised by this new statement that if we don’t agree to the terms – the wage concessions as the village sees it, that there will be all these layoffs of village employees.”
In further review of the meeting minutes and news articles, Canfield said it was his opinion that Holly citizens have voiced their support in retaining police officers. “In my personal experience, citizens are also very wary of their services being contracted out,” he said. “They fear that the quality of their services will go down, and that they’re going to lose control of these services,” he added. “If the village decides to contract out for these services, that’s exactly what’s going to happen – another entity is going to have control over the people who dispatch police officers to the citizens of the village of Holly.”
In return for the wage concessions, Canfield said the employees are asking council members to guarantee that no Holly police officers will be laid off over the next year. “They’ve only asked for that guarantee for a year – that’s not very long.”
Walker said the wording of the agreement penned by Simpson has a clause that discusses maintaining a staff of nine full time police officers – something Walker says was never previously discussed.
“Now, that was not discussed during the budget session,” Walker said. “What was discussed was if in the event the village found it necessary that an officer had to be eliminated, then certainly in my opinion, and I made the suggestion, that a clause be put in the agreement that the 2 percent would be returned to the employees because I think that’s equitable.”
Walker said never was an establishment of “minimum manpower” discussed, and that the wording of the agreement also doesn’t stipulate any time constraints.
During the June 5 special meeting, Councilwoman Pauline Kenner pressed Walker on the issue. “I’d like to know what is going to guarantee us that we are going to keep these officers working for a full year,” Kenner said. “If we go ahead and take this money out, is there a guarantee that we’re going to keep them?”
Walker said nothing would change that unless the council as a whole made the decision. “I’ve not seen a full written agreement from the union – a Memorandum of Understanding as to how this is going to occur, but I am sure in the main provision in that agreement is going to be that they are not going to give up those raises unless the officer is maintained for the entire year because if that is how I was writing it for the union, that is exactly how I would write it,” he said.
Councilwoman Jackie Campbell
On Tuesday, Councilwoman Jackie Campbell described dipping into the village’s Capital Improvement fund coupled with police officer wage concessions as the “lesser of two evils,” and a way to spare the layoff of a second police officer. “At no time did we ever discuss anything about nine employees to be guaranteed their jobs,” she said. “In this economy, I can’t see where we could ever make a commitment like that.”
Additionally, Campbell said council’s unexpected Capital Improvements fund expenditure to cover the 2011-2012 budget overage could bring about more layoffs. “I don’t see how we can guarantee that there will be no layoffs – we don’t have a crystal ball.”
As for the Holly Dispatch Center’s future, Kenner asked Walker what his intentions were. “Are you in the process of thinking about getting rid of dispatch?” she asked.
“I’m in the process of looking at all the options,” Walker replied. “Do I want to get rid of dispatch? No. I like dispatch, and I have always fought for dispatch, but it’s an option that council may have to look at in the future.”
Walker said members of POLC will be meeting with union officials in the days ahead to review the matter, and that he hopes to meet with Simpson on Thursday to finalize the agreement.