Lockport Council ratifies new police union contract - The Buffalo News

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Lockport Council ratifies new police union contract

LOCKPORT – The Common Council unanimously ratified a new six-year contract with its police union Wednesday, saving the jobs of four of the city’s youngest officers.

However, a proposal to save the jobs of a Streets Department laborer and a senior account clerk in the City Clerk’s Office failed, as no one would second the motion from Alderman Patrick W. Schrader.

Mayor Michael W. Tucker said the contract with the Hickory Club Police Benevolent Association calls for four fewer officers on the force, but that will be accomplished by early retirement for four older officers on or shortly after Jan. 1.

Thus, the budget target of reducing the force by four members will be met without laying off the officers with the least seniority.

Police Chief Lawrence M. Eggert said the contract calls for the department to switch to two 12-hour patrol shifts per day instead of three eight-hour shifts. As a result of the schedule change for patrol officers, “They’ll work more hours per year,” Eggert said.

Tucker said the contract, retroactive to Jan. 1 of this year, does not give the police a pay raise for the first four years. He declined to say what the raises would be in 2017 and 2018 because the union had not yet ratified the deal. There will be savings in benefits, too, but those details also were withheld for now. “It’s going to save the city quite a bit of money,” the mayor said.

Officer Steven Abbott, Hickory Club vice president, also said he couldn’t comment on the details of the contract yet. Eggert declined to say which officers are expected to retire.

Meanwhile, Tucker warned of trouble with the city’s blue-collar union in the wake of the Council’s refusal to restore the job of laborer George Wiley.

The mayor said the city committed to avoid layoffs among the members of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees in the wake of that union’s 2011 vote to allow the city to privatize garbage pickup.

Tucker said he forgot about that during this fall’s budget process, and Schrader said he was out of office when that deal was made, or he would have raised the question.

“We made a promise and we signed a contract to the union that we wouldn’t lay anybody off. So now we’re lying to the union,” Schrader fumed.

“It’s definitely a trust factor,” Tucker told the Council. “You’re really going back on your word. … I can tell you, there will be consequences down the road.”

Council President Anne E. McCaffrey led the opposition. She said, “The thing you hear people say is, we have to get our fiscal house in order. In my opinion, for 2014, that’s the biggest challenge. I don’t think at this point we can put positions back that a month ago we didn’t have money for.”

Norman D. Allen, director of engineering and public works, pleaded for Wiley’s job. He said the AFSCME contract requires the ouster of all part-time and seasonal employees in that unit if one full-timer is laid off.

email: tprohaska@buffnews.com

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