Talks between Saginaw and police union halted - WNEM TV 5

Talks between Saginaw and police union halted

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Police officers union President Doug Wortley Police officers union President Doug Wortley

Public safety concerns are on the rise this after negotiations between the Saginaw police officers union and city management come to a screeching halt.

The Police Officers Association of Michigan says it tried to bring ideas to save money to the table, with the goal of preventing officer layoffs.

Union President Doug Wortley says the two sides have been going back and forth over an offer from the union for a two-year contract extension along with an agreement that the city won't drop the department below 60 officers.

Wortley says, "We were told by the city that they will not agree to extend our contract, we will not agree to any of this, and they basically told us, see you in six months when we open up contract negotiations."

Right now, the department stands at 59 officers.

In return, the union says it would give up overtime pay after they've worked 80 hours as well as rescind an arbitration set to come up next week.

But the city said no, and Wortley says he was told it will discuss contract negotiations in six months.

WNEM talked to one city council member who says it appears city management and the union have passed the point of being able to reach a meeting of the minds.

Saginaw City Councilman Andrew Wendt asked, "Do you think that there are some personal vendettas that have gotten in the way of these negotiations? I believe there is a lot of bad blood between both of them, and once again, that's we should probably go into mediation because we're at this passing point."

The Police officers Association of Michigan says it recently discovered the city has about 200-thousand dollars that was set aside for unemployment benefits.

Wortley says when union leadership asked city officials about using those funds to prevent layoffs, the city responded by saying that money has been earmarked for something else.

Layoffs for the department go into effect next month.

This comes after the fire union agreed to concessions. The Saginaw City Council approved a tentative agreement with the union. The union membership still has to vote on the proposal.

Under the agreement, nine positions would be saved. An additional position is expected to be saved due to a retirement.

The proposed concession includes a longer work week for the same pay. Firefighters will increase their work week from 54 to 56 hours. They could also be required to pay more into the pension and benefit system.

The measure will allow three of the city's four fire stations to remain open.

"Well, I think it says a lot about their concern, and I think it says a lot about their commitment to the community," said Saginaw City Manager Darnell Earley.

The city planned to lay off a total of 15 firefighters as part of budget cuts. Those cuts were set to take effect July 1.

Several firefighter jobs are saved thanks to a $2.3 million federal grant.

The grant will save all firefighting positions for at least the next two years.

It's not clear what the grant means for plans to close one or more fire stations in the city.

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