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Published: Friday, 11/14/2008

BGSU, police union OK contract

BY MEGHAN GILBERT
BLADE STAFF WRITER

BOWLING GREEN - A deal has been struck between Bowling Green State University and the union representing its police officers.

Officers will get a raise of about 12 percent over the course of the new three-year contract; dispatchers and records personnel will get about a 9 percent raise.

The agreement includes a "me- too clause," so that if other hourly employees get a raise, the 23 members of the police union would get the same.

"Any time you can reach a successful conclusion to labor negotiations, it's a benefit for both the union and the administration, and we've been able to do that," BGSU police Chief James Wiegand said.

Jeremy Davies, president of Local 103 of the International Union of Police Associations, said there was some apprehension about the contract because of some mistrust with the university administration, but that it was a good compromise.

"In these economic times where people are losing their jobs, it's not bad," Mr. Davies said.

The union approved the agreement in a close vote late last week, Officer Davies said.

It will be retroactive to April 27, when the previous three-year contract expired.

Last month, the university's board of trustees voted down a fact-finding report that recommended a 19 percent pay increase for the union membership.

The union long has contended that BGSU officers are among the lowest-paid university officers in the state.

The university counters that when looking at starting salaries for the officers, BGSU is competitive.

"It was a real bone of contention and always is with this population and we have to agree to disagree," said Rebecca Ferguson, the university's assistant vice president for human resources.

An entry-level officer who was paid $18.43 an hour under the previous contract would be paid $20.93 in 2010, according to the university.

A dispatcher previously paid $14.53 would get a raise to $15.61 at the end of the new contract.

Chief Wiegand said the aspects of the contract not tied to money went well and led to a "nice package and strong contract."

Previously, officers' schedules rotated every 28 days, meaning that for one month an officer would work days, followed by a month on midnights, then a month on afternoons.

Now there is a bidding by seniority process for those shifts and the officer would have that schedule year-round.

That is something the union requested, Officer Davies said, because it's hard to completely flop one's schedule on such a regular basis.

There also is a set work schedule of four days on and two days off.

"They can look at the calendar and know exactly what their days off are so they can plan vacations, graduations, and other things well in advance," Chief Wiegand said.

The new agreement also includes language that if an officer is involved in a situation in which he uses his weapon, he has the opportunity to receive counseling and other services without using personal or sick time.

Contact Meghan Gilbert at:

mgilbert@theblade.com

or 419-724-6134.



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