City, Police Union Arbitration Case Postponed

The scheduled start of the arbitration hearing between the city of Jamestown and the Kendall Club Police Benevolent Association has been delayed.

The start of the arbitration case being heard by a three-member panel was supposed to start Monday, but according to Matthew Hanley, executive assistant to the mayor, the hearing has been postponed indefinitely.

The scheduled members of the panel included independent arbitrator Howard Foster. According to the University at Buffalo website, Foster is a professor emeritus for the School of Management organization and human resources department who has arbitrated more than 800 labor-management disputes. Todd Thomas, city clerk and administrative services manager, was slated to represent the city and John Crotty was scheduled to represent the police union on the arbitration panel.

Last month, Sam Teresi, Jamestown mayor, said the two sides can continue negotiating for a new contract up until the point that an arbitration panel makes a decision. However, he said seeing that the negotiations reached the point of a scheduled arbitration hearing, it is unlikely an agreement will be reached between the city and police union.

Since the start of 2016, the Jamestown Police Department employee bargaining unit has been without a new contract with the city. Once the arbitration hearing starts, the panel will be making a decision on the two years, 2016-17, there was no contract between the city and police union.

In September, Teresi said after two years of negotiating with the Kendall Club, city officials and union representatives had reached the point of selecting a three-person binding interest arbitration panel, which is the last of the three-step process in trying to reach a contract agreement. The first step is negotiations between management and the unions and the second step is mediation, which ended when a declaration of impasse was declared between the two sides.

The city doesn’t have a current contract with the International Association of Firefighters Local 1772, which also expired the end of 2015. The city also has an expired contract with the two units of the Jamestown City Administrative Association, one represents the employees of the Jamestown Urban Renewal Agency employees and the second represents mid-level managers and some clerical workers.

In September, Teresi said negotiations with the fire department union had reached an impasse and city officials were waiting for the union to file the necessary papers to start the binding arbitration process.

For the two Jamestown City Administrative Association collective bargaining unions there is no binding arbitration. In August, Teresi said the negotiation and mediation process was completed with no agreement reached. The third-step of the process, unlike with the police and fire unions, isn’t binding arbitration, but a super mediation process commonly referred to as a fact-finder’s report. Teresi said the report can either be accepted, which will include the terms of a new contract, or can be rejected.

If rejected, the negotiation process is restarted. Also, Teresi said the municipality can impose a contract on union employees to last no more than one year, which cannot be less in any category than the previous expired contract. Both Jamestown City Administrative Association contracts ended at the start of 2017.