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Police Union Rejects Contract

Township, police will go into arbitration after union unanimously rejects a final contract offer

West Orange police will turn an ongoing dispute over a four-year job contract to an arbitrator after nearly 18 months of failed negotiations, according to union officials.

"It is not being done fair and equitably across the board," said West Orange Police Officer and Patrolmen's Benevolent Association President Christopher Jacksic. 

The patrolmen's benevolent association, Local 25, moved towards arbitration once they overwhelmingly rejected a second four-year contract June 8 with a 63-0 vote. The contract, proposed by the township, required that officers pay 25 percent of their medical benefits, included wage increases in 2012 and 2013 and rehired the eight officers that were laid off in March.

Union officials maintain the contract is not reasonable for its employees.  

Union members also turned down the township's that required a 7.5 percent concession to salary for benefits and 2 percent salary increases for 2012 and 2013. 

The vote resulted in eight layoffs and 16 demotion to offset the township's roughly $3.4 million deficit.

West Orange Mayor Robert Parisi called the second vote "unfortunate" and the "final attempt" at negotiations. 

"We have to find a balance between the employees' needs and the township's needs and it's not only just a financial balance, it's a moral balance," said Parisi. "We all feel a moral obligation that all of our employees and their families are properly covered and properly cared for but that has to be balanced with the economic reality of the township." 

These negotiations come against the backdrop of a state-wide health benefits reform plan that is pending in the state legislature. Introduced by Senate president Steve Sweeney, the reform plan (S-2718) would require public employees to pay a percentage of their health care premium on a sliding scale based on salary. Payments would be made gradually over the course of four or seven years. 

While the reform plan would require public employees to pay up to 30 percent of their benefits, payments would be phased out and gradually build up with salary increases. The contract proposed by the township, however, is not "salary specific," said Jacksic. "A new officer with a family pays equal as an officer that's been here for 20 years." 

He said that due to current pending legislation, "the membership felt that they would await the findings of the state and follow what process the state was going through."

The union has filed for arbitration, scheduled to take place July 15. Because of the nature of their jobs, police and fire employees are prohibited from striking and need to hire an arbitrator by law to settle the matter.

"This is the business of government," said Parisi. "It's not like we don't have tremendous respect for what they do ... we have to do what's in the best interest of the town to keep the town economically viable."

Since the layoffs, two officers have been rehired due to unexpected retirements and one more will be rehired in July. Three officers have been offered employment in Milburn. Two officers remain unemployed, according to township officials. 

specialagentwolfie June 16, 2011 at 11:05 AM
Mac and MP. Your comments don't do much to convey your point of view as they are ripe with envy. You sound like a couple of guys who just couldn't "make the cut" for the Police or Fire Department. You probably took the test years ago and either didn't do well on the written, or failed the physcial and now you see an opportunity to make attacks against professions you were not able to enter. Civil Servants were not posting jealous attacks against private sector workers, dot-com"ers and the like when the economy was strong so refrain from attacking us now. IT IS NOT OUR FAULT the state government has refused to make their pension payment obligation for years. THAT is the reason the pension system is not solvent and THAT is a political maneuver that is beyond our control.
MP June 16, 2011 at 12:52 PM
downthehill - the state is going down the hill because of the unions. Private sector salaries are not paid by tax payers. They are paid based on the what the market will pay for the services. Public worker salaries are paid by fleecing the taxpayers by the unions and the Democrats the unions help to elect with taxpayer money. If you can't see the difference, I wonder what kind of questions they ask in the tests you took.
KB June 16, 2011 at 02:54 PM
@Mac @MP: The recent PBA vote of 63-0 was a vote against greedy politicians that are collecting 2 pensions and that are fiscally mismanaging the budget. These greedy politicians demand give backs and concessions and yet concede nothing. It's a vote against "back room" deals and "behind the scenes" agreements amongst the politicians that help line their pockets with taxpayer's money. It's a vote against politicians using their elected offices to further their private businesses. We know the truth! Politicians raid our pension funds and blame us for the reforms that are needed. They collect 2 pensions, hold multiple offices and our salaries are too high. Where's your outrage MP & Mac that Taxpayer money supports greedy politicians. We know the truth! Stay strong PBA 25
Tom G. June 16, 2011 at 03:14 PM
KB - I don't doubt for a minute that the politicians are greedy. That happens everywhere and in all forms of politics. It sounds like the police dept. is getting screwed either way. They either accept the town's offer and have to pay a percentage of their medical benefits and/or salary concessions, or they reject the town's offer completely (as they have done) and several officers remain unemployed. So what do you suggest as a solution?
KB June 16, 2011 at 03:38 PM
@Mac: layoffs/demotions are the final budgetary moves when the town has cut spending and unnecessary services are cut. Police Officers were cut but the "employee of the month" program was "down sized", not cut. Police Officers were cut but extra details were/are being paid for i.e. Main St craft fairs, parades, fire works, festivals etc. Police Officers were cut but a 5 year "payout plan for retirees" was rejected. What about the 2 pension politicians? Didn't towns around W.O. cut back to save jobs? What are towns like Montclair, S.Orange & Livingston doing that W.O. isn't or can't do. They didn't layoff/demote. Where's the money from all the retirements going? Many Police Officers and Firefighters retired early to save jobs! I'm tired of the Unions being blamed. We offered ideas and concessions and they were ALL rejected by the town! Honest, open & fair negotiations is the answer.
Tom G. June 16, 2011 at 04:06 PM
KB - wasn't the town able to avoid all layoffs in the fire department? What did the fire dept. do differently that the police can't do (or are unwilling to do)?
Ken June 16, 2011 at 04:13 PM
The firemen agreed to concessions that kept everyone on the job. Not to malign either group, but my feeling is that firefighting is a different job; if you're a fireman, putting fewer guys on crews or closing a house isn't just going to make your job harder, it's also going to have a major impact on your own personal safety. Police work is different; seems to me like most of the day-to-day work is done by one officer on his own, and the town was promising to put supervisors on the street as well, so anything requiring backup should have essentially the same manpower as it would have if jobs weren't lost. I don't think either cops or firefighters are selfish; I just think they're different jobs, and the humans who perform them and vote on these offers are going to make the decisions that make the most sense to them.
KB June 16, 2011 at 04:46 PM
@Mac: the town refused all ideas, concessions from the unions. It was agree to 7.5% of the salary or else. Do you know that on 3/15/11, the deadline to accept the offer, the town was prepared to cut 16 firefighter positions and as of last week firefighters were promoted and hired. And don't forget they have since received a revised contract from the town. In less then 3 months firefighters were promoted, hired and given a new contract. I don't think the town knows what they're doing.
MP June 16, 2011 at 04:57 PM
Sometime I see one cop car stops a woman for speeding and minutes later another car joins in. And we get the impression in this forrum that cops are busy chasing criminals and running into burning buildings, LOL. I see cops in Shoprite, library, schools, with the utility repair crew, etc. I guess pretty demanding job!
john prignano June 17, 2011 at 01:10 AM
When Councilman Krakoviak was a Tax Watchdog and council candidate , he strongly criticized the town for soaring taxes and the one shot budget gimmick used to balance last year's budget . Jack Sayers was there for all of it. But now , Krakoviak says he thinks Sayers is doing "an excellent job " and Sayer's salary is a lot less than Livingston's B. A., so Sayers is a bargain. .Krakoviak now boasts that this is the second year in a row that West Orange has delivered a no tax increase budget. One shot gimmick ?? Apparently , he thinks the town denying the public it's right to initiative and referendum on school construction is a good thing. Krakoviak has now seen up close the wealth that Sayers and Richard Trenk have built through " public service ' and political connections. He sees how well Team Spango and Team McCartney and the youthful Cirilo and Anderton are doing. The road to wealth and affluence runs through City Hall. Krakoviak will argue trivialities and minor points, but he will not debate or protest anything of substance, because he clearly has joined The Team .
MP June 17, 2011 at 12:17 PM
I hope the savings from the pension and benefits bill to be passed soon will be passed to the taxpayers. Unless the property taxes are reduced, no one in their right mind will buy a house in West Orange. Stand firm Mayor, against the union bullhorns.
Joe Krakoviak June 17, 2011 at 12:27 PM
1. You are correct that I support a second consecutive year of no increase in municipal taxes (excluding the effect of the revaluation). The town’s hard-pressed taxpayers certainly deserve this respite. Before my election to the council, I criticized last year’s budget results because they were achieved by selling a decade of future revenue from the town’s cell towers at a 50% discount in exchange for a one-year $1.9 million payment. You might also want to give me credit for identifying this shenanigan to the public. More detail is at www.westorangegrassroots.org. This year’s financial results, which included my participation as a councilman, were achieved without such “one-shots.” 2. It appears you may not like Mr. Sayers, the business administrator. As I’ve said before, I do not always agree with him. I don’t like that he is simultaneously getting a state pension and a public salary. However, this is entirely legal thanks to our indefensible pension law. But from what I have seen, I think he’s good at his job serving residents (particularly in his role in the administration’s discussions with our public unions) at a compensation level that is less than business administrators with less experience and credentials in neighboring communities. It is possible Mr. Sayers may have played a significant role in the cell tower transaction – but it is the mayor and town council at the time who should be held responsible for their decision. (More to come.)
Joe Krakoviak June 17, 2011 at 12:29 PM
(More response to Mr. Prignano) 3. You are incorrect to say that I would deny any West Orange resident initiative and referendum. First, I can’t because residents are allowed to challenge and defeat any law the council approves under our form or government. Also, you appear to totally misunderstand my position on the town borrowing millions of dollars on behalf of the school district under the state “shared services” law. This strategy avoids the state requirement that any school bonding get voter approval, and I have repeatedly voiced my opposition to it. Moreover, I was the only councilman Tuesday to vote against bonding nearly $20,000 more which the district spent on the high school football facility months after the work was done without first obtaining approval of the change order. You can confirm this by watching the video of the council meeting for yourself at www.westorangegrassroots.org. 4. I have no idea what you’re talking about in terms of me and ‘wealth and affluence” or joining “The Team.” I continue to strive to represent all residents of our great town and vote in the best interest of the town overall. I’m the only councilman not taking the annual $14,000 stipend. I continue to be independent in my thinking and voting. My approach to “team” is, first, the one that voted me in last November with nearly 50 percent of the vote, and second, I’ll work with anyone who wishes to help improve the affordability of our town.
MP June 17, 2011 at 01:24 PM
Mr. Krakoviak: I voted for you the last two times you ran for public office. Will you please work hard to lower the taxes in the interest of the suffering taxpayers? I hope you won't hand over the taxpayers money to unions to pad their undeserved income and benefits. Home values are plummeting in West Orange due to high taxes. Check out 40 Old Indian Road on Zillow.com. The house is listed for $499,000, but the property tax is $20,000. Who will buy this house? The police union? Most of the cops don't live in the town.
Ken June 17, 2011 at 01:58 PM
I think you need to do some tax comparisons with some of our neighbors.
KB June 17, 2011 at 02:58 PM
@MP: while you sit here and criticize the unions you fail to realize and or accept that greedy politicians in the state, county and yes, here in W.O., are collecting 2 pensions, holding 2 offices simeltaneously and using their political offices to further their private busineses i.e. the insurance industry. ALL at the TAXPAYERS expense. They raid the pension system and fail to payback the money. ALL at the TAXPAYERS expense. Millions of dollars in W.O. have been wasted on "bad" contracts for police/fire/dpw equipment that continues to sit unused in vehicles and offices. ALL at the TAXPAYERS expense. The town continues to staff an inordinate amount of lawyers. ALL at the TAXPAYERS expense. Too many dept heads are given take home cars and dept issued cell phones. ALL at the TAXPAYERS expense. And where is the attrition and or layoffs/demotions concerning the multiple layers of administrators at the B.O.E.? ALL at the TAXPAYERS expense! Let's vote out Greedy politicians that line their own pockets behind the scenes.
MP June 17, 2011 at 03:12 PM
Our taxes are high because of all unions - police, fire fighters, municipal employees, teachers, administrators, etc. They all make very high salaries (and enjoy free benefits) compared to the average salary of the resident here. Yes politicians are included too. At least we can vote out the politicians but the unions are costing us our houses. How can you justify paying $20,000 property tax to pay for all this largess to public employees. This is criminal.
KB June 17, 2011 at 03:39 PM
@MP: then vote out the politicians that "collectively bargained" those benefits and salaries if you feel that way. Many of those politicians are still in office today. Have the courage right here MP to list the names of politicians that you feel are hurting the W.O. taxpayer. Will you or can you do it MP? I doubt it! Term limits at all levels of gov't will help eliminate the political greed and culture of back room deals.
MP June 17, 2011 at 04:28 PM
We voted out Corzine at the state level and it is showing now. Thank god we have a courageous governor. We voted down the school budget last year. If enough people pay attention, we can vote out everybody in WO as well. Only 20% vote in school elections. They should move the election to Novemebr and you will see results. I will never vote for Codey-Mckeon ticket. McKeon raised our taxes 8% a year.
Kathryn June 17, 2011 at 04:29 PM
true - but that is the decision they made when they decided to become POs or firemen. What bearing does that have on anything? Why should we have to pay for their benefits? They make more money than most people and should have to pay just like anybody else.
Kathryn June 17, 2011 at 04:38 PM
oh please. who gets retirement packages like they do? And if they work on a holiday, it's the jackpot for them. Andy who pays them when they're sitting over at shoprite? i'm sure that's quite a perk for them, too.
john prignano June 17, 2011 at 05:32 PM
Mayoral candidate Parisi said he would collect $1.3 million in uncollected fines and fees if he were elected. Has that money been collected, or was Parisi's pledge one of those " I'll say anything to get elected"things .like his mentors are famous for ?
wowonderful June 18, 2011 at 03:06 AM
Police/fire dont pay into social security so they have to live on their pensions and savings alone. They also pay a ton of money into thir pension. With all the money they pay into their pension they could have just as easily have put it in an ira and have just as much money so stop whining about their pensions
MP June 18, 2011 at 02:31 PM
Don't try to make us believe 401k is better than pension. I would love to have the municpal employees moved to 401K plan to save the taxpayers a ton of money.
KB June 18, 2011 at 04:35 PM
@MP: you have the right to feel the way you do about the unions but try at least to post some facts or examples on how to better the system. I have asked you to name politicians that you feel are hurting W.O. taxpayers, I have posted examples of wasteful spending in town, I have posted ideas, examples of concessions offered by the unions during these negotiations and I have posted names of politicians and their "buddies" that I feel are hurting the system. Back up your feelings/opinions with courses of action etc. Unless you do your posts are "comical'" at best.
MP June 19, 2011 at 02:44 AM
You never posted any financial analysis to back up your claim. Why don't you say how much the cops are making with over time, how much pension they will get starting from what age, how much they pay for heath care, how much they contribute towards pension, how pension is calcualted (inflated last years's income!), how much money the politicians are making through doub dipping, etc. You cannot stop spending money on town's festivals and other things and pay everything to the cops. Town needs this kind of things to make it a coherent town. How many WO cops live in WO? You post all the information you have to back up your claims.
KB June 20, 2011 at 05:43 PM
@MP: The police pay 8.5% of their salary weekly into the pension, plus state and fed'l taxes etc. We don't contribute to social security. If current legislation passes we will pay 10% of our salary into the pension. Currently 1.5% of our salary is deducted for health benefits. Pensions are based on salary after 25 years of service. It appears that based on the above approx 20% of our salaries, give or take %, are deducted immediately before we take home a dime. That's pension, state/fed"l taxes, health deductions. You comment that you see officers on road jobs, kmart, shoprite etc., well those are officers working part time jobs to supplement their primary jobs just like most citizens. Most officers/firemen I know must work 2 jobs to support their families, but yet we're not the ones complaining, it's guys like you. Now please post your occupation, deductions, pension/401K etc. so we can continue this discussion.
Tom G. June 21, 2011 at 12:07 PM
Actually, paying 10% into a pension plan really isn't bad at all. That's about what I contribute to my 401k plan and 401k's have big risk. I would pay 10% into a pension any day since at least you are guaranteed the money is there when you retire. 401k plans are a joke...they give a false sense of savings (as many people who have tried to retire the last few years have found out). 401k's are completely dependent on the market, where at least a pension is guaranteed and backed by the PBGC. Plus with 401k you end up paying taxes when you withdraw the money anyway. Over the last 10 years I probably could have earned more in a low-interest savings account than in a 401k plan.
KB June 21, 2011 at 03:46 PM
@Mac: 1) But you don't have greedy politicians raiding your 401k plan (like our pension), spending the money on pet projects and then blame the workers when they can't replenish the pension fund. The workers become the scapegoats and all the taxpayers get hit with the bill. I still don't see tort reform, term limits and increased insurance competition to help drive down the costs of health care for ALL citizens. Greedy politicians are in bed with the insurance companies and lawyers representing same. In many cases greedy politicians run their own law firms and or insurance practices while holding elected offices. 2) Please post your occupation, deductions, 401k/pension contributions, salary etc like I have to further this discussion. I hear a lot of complaining on the patch from guys like you and MP but I don't see the numbers etc from you guys.
robert smith August 04, 2011 at 02:49 AM
Its so funny to me that these ppl sleep safley in their beds at night because brave men and woman are willing to put their lives on the line for them and they think that all cops are entitled and sit at shop rite all day...i work in one of the worst cities in nj and trust me im not sitting at shop rite collecting my measly south jersey salary thats not even close to 100k get educated and get a clue or stfu

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