Thursday, November 02, 2000

Police suit over pay disputed

City lawyer tells council complaint may be tied to contract talks

By Robert Anglen
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        Cincinnati police officers already get the money that they claim the city has been cheating them out of since 1995.

        That's what city lawyers told City Council on Wednesday about a lawsuit the police union filed this week against the administration.

        Not only does the suit not make sense, Deputy City Solicitor Bob Johnstone said, it is also suspect “in view of the ongoing labor negotiations” between the police and the city.

        That caused council to back off an expected settlement with the union.

        The suit alleges that 32 officers who also serve in military reserve units are owed $70,000 in pay that the city has wrongly taken.

        Because officers are paid full salaries while they are called to active military duty, they have agreed to give any military pay back to the city. But officers argue they have been made to give back too much, including money they earned while serving in the military on regular days off.

        Mr. Johnstone said Wednesday that is not true, and for 18 months the city has not asked for money earned during off days. What police officers really want, he said, is to pocket both checks.

        Police Union President Keith Fangman said the lawsuit was filed “after two years of frustration” and failed attempts to work out a compromise. He argued that the suit cannot affect contract negotiations because rules prohibit either side from bringing new issues to the table.

        “I'm still confused about what the issue is here,” Mayor Charlie Luken said.

        City Manager John Shirey said he doesn't have any answers. He has been asked to report next week on how many employees citywide, if any, are owed back pay.

        “I don't get it,” he said, adding that city policy has already been changed.


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