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Published: Tuesday, 4/28/2009

Bar to command-rank cuts to cost other jobs, Toledo says

BY ERICA BLAKE
BLADE STAFF WRITER

If a Lucas County Common Pleas Court judge imposes a restraining order preventing Toledo from laying off 20 command officers, then more layoffs elsewhere will be needed to produce make up the savings, the city argued in a brief filed Monday.

The Toledo Police Command Officers' Association attempted to stop the city from laying off 20 command officers by filing a motion for a temporary restraining order last week. According to a request filed Thursday, the layoffs would violate the union's contract.

Monday the parties met for a brief hearing before Judge Frederick McDonald, who scheduled a hearing at 1:30 p.m. Tuesday. City attorneys asked for the hearing so that they could present evidence as to why the judge should deny the union's request.

A member of the police department and Mayor Carty Finkbeiner's chief of staff, Robert Reinbolt, are both scheduled to testify.

The union claimed in its complaint that the city violated its contract when the city sent layoff notices to about 20 command officers that would go into effect May 1. A grievance was filed subsequently, and now union officials claim that the city cannot proceed until an arbitrator is able to decide the issue.

The union asked the court to "maintain the status quo with respect for contractually required manning levels pending arbitration."

Although both parties are in discussions about selecting an arbitrator and potential meeting dates, the city contends that stopping the layoffs would cause great harm for the already "financially challenged" city.

"If, as the [union] argues, the layoff of 20 officers will encourage criminal activity [an assertion which is merely conjectural], the need to lay off more officers because of delay would worsen the impact on the public," the city's memorandum said. "The city, if an injunction is imposed, will be forced to lay off officers from another bargaining unit in order to realize the necessary savings."

According to the union, the command officers' current contract states that the city must at all times maintain certain manning levels of 136 command officers. The contract also states that the city may not reduce the number of command officers through layoffs until a "10 percent reduction in the authorized strength through layoff and/or attrition for purposes of layoff has occurred below the rank of sergeant."

"After this condition is met, then - and only then - may the city lay off command officers [and only on a proportional basis to the layoff of any patrol officers,]" the complaint for injunctive relief said.

Judge McDonald said he would make a decision before the scheduled layoffs are set to take effect Friday.

Contact Erica Blake at:

eblake@theblade.com

or 419-213-2134.



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