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Effort for city police 12-hour shifts fails

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A younger generation of Watertown police officers hoped to work 12-hour shifts in exchange for more personal time, but not at the price proposed by City Hall, according to the Police Benevolent Association president.

Approximately 25 PBA members met Nov. 19 to discuss a written proposal from City Manager Sharon A. Addison and didn’t even put it up to a vote, said PBA President Jerry D. Golden, as the unanimous response was a disappointed thumbs down.

“All of the concessions would be at our expense,” Mr. Golden said. “It seems evident to us that the city didn’t really want to go to 12-hour shifts.”

He had anticipated a “win-win situation” for both sides, with the city having to pay less overtime and sick pay.

The PBA and city had been negotiating the issue for about eight months before it finally came down to a written proposal that would have required officers to work overtime at their basic salary, according to Mr. Golden. Over a two-week pay period, officers would work 84 hours, with no time-and-a-half pay for the extra four hours, he said.

The city’s proposal also would eliminate holiday pay, compensation time and personal days, all of which are provided in the city’s labor agreement with the PBA, Mr. Golden said.

The membership was hoping for a 12-hour shift plan that would enable a more predictable weekend schedule for family time, he said.

“We have no other recourse at this time,” Mr. Golden said. “We will have to wait until negotiations begin when the current contract expires on June 30, 2014.”

Ms. Addison declined to comment, saying that the city does not negotiate labor contracts in public. She also refused to release the written proposal.

“You’re not going to get that from the city,” she said. “You can go to the PBA for that.”

Mr. Golden said an attorney advised him that since the document was drafted by the city, it should come from the city.

This month’s rejection by the PBA shadows a similar resolve 12 years ago, but for different reasons. The PBA membership of 2005 was a more veteran crew, Mr. Golden said in March. Members then were more comfortable staying with their traditional five-day week.

When he spoke in March, many of the veterans had retired, and their replacements in uniform had “voted overwhelmingly” to strive for 12-hour shifts.

Times staff writer Craig Fox contributed to this report

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