Sunday, December 14, 2008

Woodstock Police - Still no contract

I wonder how many Woodstock residents realize that the officers of the Woodstock Police Department continue to work their shifts and perform their duties, in spite of having no contract with the City. The officers "organized" a while back; that is, they formed a union and hoped to benefit from collective bargaining.

Their contract expired about a year ago, and no agreement has been reached on a new one. Apparently, police officers cannot strike, so we still see police cars around town and occasionally hear their sirens and see the overhead lights in operation.

What if we had a Republic Windows & Doors sit-in right here in Woodstock? Just picture this. Officers show up in uniform for their shifts, go to roll call, sit and listen to the non-union sergeant drone on and on about responsibility and duty and obligation and shutting off the engines (even though it's 10 degrees outside) and so on. Then the sergeant tells them to go out, check the equipment in their cars, test the lights and sirens, and get to work.

But this day the officers just sit there. They'd like to go to work, but there is no contract. The dispatchers get swamped with calls, and the sergeants are running all over town, trying to handle all the calls themselves. What if they get hurt on the job? What if there is a disagreement with a supervisor? What if they are threatened with discipline while merely doing their jobs? Will the union's lawyer represent them, if there is no contract? What are they paying their dues for, if there is no contract?

"You know, sarge, if we had a contract, we'd all be happy as clams and be glad to go out on the streets of Woodstock and chase jewelry store robbers, speeders, break up fights, investigate accidents involving cops and let them go - why, we'll do our duty. We'll protect and serve. All we need is the contract, sarge..."

No one even takes Brinx outside. He sits in the rollcall room for eight hours with the rest of his officers. Kind of hard on the kidneys, but life is tough.

So, where is the contract? Why hasn't it been completed, accepted and put away for another 1-2-3 years? Where is the good-faith bargaining?

Cops are reasonable employees, just like the rest of the City employees. If there really is no money for pay increases and benefits (and no other employees are getting pay increases or benefits), I'll bet they will accept that and wait for better times.

OK, officers, weigh in here. Post your comments. What do you think are the reasons that no new contract has been signed? How long will you continue to work without a contract?

1 comment:

Richard W Gorski, M.D. said...

Managing a municipality and dealing with a department's employees that should have a contractual agreement with the city is a tricky situation. All things in life require balance, give and take, a win-win sitiuation to a certain extent for both parties involved; I hope that understanding exists on both sides or does one side, that controls the funding, jobs and future of the other simply believe that since they have "deeper pockets" and the no strike provision on their side they can win buy default. They may win (?) in the short run but in the police community the word gets out there pretty fast about what towns are good to work for and those that are not. Those that "have your back and those that will drop you like a hot coal if there is any controversy". Like anything in life...there are no free get and deserve what you pay for.