Orland Park cops say still big gap in contract talks
By Mike Nolan firstname.lastname@example.org September 5, 2012 11:32PM
Updated: October 7, 2012 7:57AM
The Orland Park police union president says morale among officers is “suffering” because the union and village haven’t been able to agree on a new contract.
Pay and health insurance costs are the biggest sticking points in the talks, which have involved sessions with a mediator, said Ron Ahrendt, president of Local 159 of the Metropolitan Alliance of Police.
Negotiations have gone to arbitration, with a hearing scheduled for next Wednesday, Ahrendt said. It’s possible, he said, that the arbitrator, after getting additional information from both sides, could make a ruling.
Local 159 represents 76 officers who have been without a new contract since May 1, 2011, when their four-year contract expired, Ahrendt said.
“We’re so far apart on the issues,” the 12-year department veteran said.
Ahrendt said Orland Park is proposing that officers pay substantially more in monthly premiums for health insurance, while offering raises totaling 7.5 percent over four years. The higher health insurance costs would more than offset the raises, he said.
Village officials said previously that rising health care costs require that unionized employees shoulder more of the burden. Ahrendt said his members aren’t opposed to that but view the village’s request as excessive.
“We understand the environment we are in, we get it,” he said. “We are willing to pay more for health insurance, but these costs have to be reasonable.”
In a statement, the village said it “does not believe that it is productive to bargain through the media” and would not comment on outstanding issues in contract talks.
“The village has met with union representatives many times since May 2011 to try to reach terms for a new collective bargaining agreement and will continue to pursue mutual agreement,” according to the statement.
The village said the arbitrator “explicitly requested that both parties refrain from negotiating in public during this period of arbitration.”
Ahrendt said he was told that specific issues discussed with the mediator could not be divulged to the general public, but the union’s attorney had cleared him to speak to the media about where negotiations stand.