Police union to return arbitration award

Times-Herald Newspapers

DEARBORN – A police officers’ union has agreed to return an award from a June 15 arbitration hearing against the city.

The arbitration case, filed in August 2010, stems from the 2010 Dearborn Homecoming festival, which was held Aug. 6 to 8. At the event, 17 Dearborn Police Reserve officers were used by the city as security on a roaming basis, which means they would patrol the area, and relieve other officers while they patrolled the parking lot and vendor area.

According to the arbitration filing, the city determines when overtime is necessary under the Management Rights clause of the contract. In the filing, the city asserted that the 2010 designation of roaming meant they performed “security-type” work not usually performed by sworn officers. Since they were not paired with sworn officers, which is the usual practice, the city asserted that the reserve officers should not have been paid overtime.

According to court documents, city officials reached an agreement in July 2010 with the Patrol Officers Association to suspend the overtime ratio for three events, including the Homecoming event. The Association did not sign the document.

Lt. Mark Tobias, president of The Lieutenants and Sergeants Association of Dearborn, said the union is giving back the money because the victory is more than monetary.

“It’s about our rights in the contract,” Tobias said.

The hearing, which was heard in December 2010 by Southfield-based attorney Edward Plawecki Jr., came out in favor of the union, saying that the city violated the terms of a collective bargaining agreement by not assigning a regular member of the police department to each reserve officer. In the past, the officers were paired with a sworn officer to work in a supervisory role, Tobias said.

City officials were ordered to pay the officers who worked 92 hours of overtime at the festival, which, Tobias said, comes out to between $7,000 and $9,000.

The ruling stated that when officers are used in a non-emergency function they are to be assigned a regular member of the police department on an overtime basis.

In the ruling, Plawecki said that the city’s financial position is understandable.

In a separate statement, Tobias agreed with Plawecki, and added that the contract needs to be upheld.

“This decision to return the award is an acknowledgement that the Association recognizes the city’s challenging financial situation and that the Association is a cooperative partner in moving the city forward,” he said. “Quite simply, the issue was that our established and mutually agreed-upon contract was violated; thus the grievance was a matter of principle.”

(Daniel Heraty can be reached at dheraty@bewickpublications.com.)