Naperville police unfair labor complaint dismissed

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A not always pleasant, 3-year-old labor dispute that pitted the city of Naperville against its rank and file police officers has been settled in the city’s favor.

An administrative law judge who heard evidence presented during hearings before the State of Illinois Labor Relations Board has dismissed the unfair labor practice charges filed against the city by Naperville Fraternal Order of Police Lodge 42, city officials announced late Friday afternoon in a release.

Local FOP members, in a complaint filed on Nov. 9, 2010, contended city officials had not bargained in good faith, and that that month’s layoffs of six police officers was retribution for the union’s October 2010 request for interest arbitration.

Prior to that request, city officials and the FOP “reached an agreement on police wages and other contract terms,” the city release read in part. The layoffs soon followed.

A three-day evidentiary hearing and written legal arguments were presented in 2011 to the labor relations board, the release continued. The judge assigned to the case earlier this week “issued a 29-page opinion, which dismissed the union’s charges,” according to the release.

“As Naperville police officers retired from the force, each of the laid-off officers was given the opportunity to return to service,” the release stated. “This was accomplished within six months of the layoffs.”

City Manager Doug Krieger was quoted in the release as saying the city and police union officials “have worked together to forge a positive relationship.”

“We all have the same goal, providing the best service to our residents,” Krieger said. “In 2013, our city was ranked as one of the top 10 safest, mid-sized cities in the nation, and it is thanks to the hard work of our police officers.”

The release also declared local union members “will not appeal the decision.” Police officer Vince Clark, president of FOP Lodge 42, did not immediately reply to telephone and email messages left for him Friday night that sought comment on the judge’s decision.

Lodge 42 in 2010 represented nearly 140 police officers. Union leaders said the subject of potential layoffs was never broached during the most recent round of contract negotiations, and that the final contract agreement was based entirely on what the city was offering.

That offer proposed giving officers raises of 3.3 percent during the 2009-10 fiscal year and 3 percent in both the 2010-11 and 2011-12 fiscal years. It also proposed a 50 percent increase in police health insurance premium contributions.

The offer was retroactive to May 1, 2009, and through April 30, 2012. It came after more than a year’s worth of talks.

City officials, at the time of the layoffs, were projecting a municipal budget deficit of $5 million.

After filing the unfair labor allegation, police conducted informational picketing sessions at and near the Municipal Center. They also listed what they said were potential safety concerns, in an effort to drum up support from citizens and members of the business community.