Monday, March 3, 2014

Oro Valley Town Council Considers Police Contract Wednesday

The Oro Valley Police Officer's Association ("OVPOA"), also known as "Town's Public Safety Employee Group" has negotiated  "... a 2-year MOU providing for full implementation of the Town's market study with step ownership on July 1, 2014, and step increases in both FY 2014/2015 and FY 2015/2016. "
(Source: Town Staff Corbin Report)

The Salary Scales Are Based On A Possibly Flawed Market Study

The "town's market study" is a study that compares Oro Valley employee salaries and wages in communities that are almost 3 times the size of Oro Valley. They are in Maricopa County.  That study concluded that Oro Valley employees are not paid comparable to these communities.
"The only new costs associated with this MOU are the proposed changes to the Police Pay Structure which were recommended by the Waters Consulting Group after they conducted the market study. The one-time cost of implementing the structure is approximately $500,000 and will be a part of the recommended 2014-2015 budget."
The $500,000 is about 6% of police direct pay personnel costs.

(Oro Valley's police budget for 2014 is $14.1 million. $13.8 million is from the general fund.  This is 48.1% of general fund expenditures.  Total town budget personnel costs are $25.1 million.  $19.7 million are supported by the general fund.  There are 134.1 full time equivalent employees in the police budget.  These employees receive approximately 74% of total budgeted personnel costs of $11.6 million.  So, pay to police employees is about $8.6 million. The added $500,000 one time adjustment proposed by the MOU is a 6% bump in pay.)
"Insiders" Negotiated The MOU

Four town employees, one of whom is a police commander, negotiated the agreement with four other town employees, who represent the union.

The MOU, which must be approved by council, defines the salaries, terms and conditions of the employment of the police.

Winners and Losers

For the police, reporting to council and then influencing the majority of council through endorsements are the two key ingredients for OVPOA negotiating success.

The OVPOA follows the playbook detailed in the text: "Police Union Power, Politics, and Confrontation in the 21st Century: New Challenges, New Issues."

The book instructs to support friendly candidates and to score incumbents based on how they voted in relation to union related matters.   A "B" or better warrants a continued endorsement.

According to the text, police union candidate support should go beyond endorsements.  The book speaks at length of providing media support to candidates, using PAC money, and providing manpower to a candidate's effort: "The reason firefighters have so much influence... is that they own the yard sign franchise...candidates are getting yard signs printed and, in many cases,  installed by fire fighters."

The book notes that the police department should expect the following:  "When you endorse a candidate... make sure to extract a price. This candidate needs you much more than you need him or her. Get this candidate's binding promise to support the pay raise, next collective bargaining agreement or whatever else is your top issue before you make the endorsement. Then remember to collect on the promise after the election."  (This from page 114 of the text)

Lack Of Independent Negotiation Is The Problem

So, you may ask: "Why is this a problem?" Unions, after all, have using these same tactics for years.  And, they have been successful in doing so.  In addition, it is their right to do so.

We agree.  Lack of independent negotiation is not a problem for the union, of course.  It is also not a problem for a town employee as long as they stand down from challenging the union.  The town's employees involved in the negotiations have good reason to avoid angering the OVPOA.  All they need to do is look to what happened to Town Manager David Andrews in 2010. (Read: Evil Trickster of Oro Valley).

It is a problem for the residents of Oro Valley.

It is a problem because, to this point, there has been group beholden to the people of Oro Valley who are negotiating on their behalf.

Our Analysis: A Sweet Deal For The Cops

That is the role of the town council.  In most instances that would be sufficient to represent the people. Not at this time however.

What will council do Wednesday night?  Here is our surmise:

The Majority-4 on council were endorsed by the OVPOA. They fawn publicly over anything police related.  They gush each time they mention the name of Oro Valley Police Chief Sharp.  They have yet to demonstrate that they will provide a critical eye to police operations and spending.

Only Council Member's Burns, Garner and Zinkin are independent of the police.  They were not endorsed by the police union.  In fact, OVPOA has actively complained against Council Member Zinkin, and has refused to talk with Council Member Burns.

The OVPOA has driven Oro Valley politics for years. It will continue to do so until voters elect council members who do not have the OVPOA "seal of approval."

Wednesday: "An Agreement Rich In Fringe Benefits"


Richard Furash, MBA said...

6% increase is outrageous and criminal especially given that the military personnel who really provide our protection is being forced, and are very fortunate to receive a 1% pay raise and their fringe benefits are

Richard Furash, MBA said...

I strongly support the OVPD and their mission. However, a 6% increase in pay is criminal political excess when our countries military personnel, who are our real protectors and are placing their lives on the line for us every day, are being limited to (and are lucky to receive) a 1% increase in pay as their fringe benefits are also under attack. What a shame the citizens of OV continue to put with this crappy management of our finite funding. If we cannot expect the town council to judiciously disperse the town funds, without political influence, then we need to replace them immediately.

Richard Furash, MBA said...

Having considerable experience negotiating contracts between my union and management, I fail to see how this negotiating personnel arrangement avoids conflict of interest. Traditionally, unions are represented by their own negotiating committee (non-management) and paid legal staff. No one wears more than one hat, for obvious reasons.

How long did this negotiation take place? What were the positions of the parties at the beginning of the process? What quids were exchanged for this pay raise? Retirement? Health care? Work rules?

It sounds to me like this was not a traditional negotiation, but more like a bunch of people in a room without competing objectives. That serves neither side of the bargaining table well. Is this a real union, that falls under the the purview of the National Labor Relations Board?

Further, this entire business of our council managing the police department is simply ridiculous.

Richard Furash, MBA said...

I have two words for this:

Bell, California.

Richard Furash, MBA said...

Oro Valley budgets had been made for one fiscal year since its founding.

This was altered on May 2, 2012 when the Town Council approved a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) Resolution 12-23 between Public Safety Employees (Police) and the Town of Oro Valley pursuant to Chapter 4, Section 4-1-8 of the Town Code for two years.

The Oro Valley Police Union (OVPOA) started negotiating for two year period Memos of Understanding (MOU) Union Contracts. This resulted in a commitment of the Oro Valley Financial Budget (our tax dollars) July 1, 2012 through June 30, 2013 and July 1, 2013 through June 30, 2014. This change was approved with the support of the majority-4 council members elected with the endorsement of the Police Union. The police department does report to the council. It looks like OVPOA got richly rewarded for their political endorsement.

There was never any reasoning given to start setting police budgets for two years. The police department reports to the Council. The remainder of the town departments report to the Town Manager and their budgets remain at one year. However, the Town Manager is required to submit a recommended budget for the entire town for approval by the Council? The Town Manager can do little to change the second year OVPOA MOU budgetary requirements.

The new recommended MOU with the Police Union will be another two year commitment effective for the following two fiscal years, July 1, 2014 through June 30, 2015 and July 1, 2015 through June 30, 2016.

It looks like OVPOA continues to receive favored status. Again, the Town Manager can do little to change the second year OVPOA MOU budgetary requirements.

To quote from the new recommended two year OVPOA MOU: “The one-time cost of implementing the structure is approximately $500,000 and will be a part of the recommended 2014-2015 budget”. This MOU will also be automatically part of the 2015/2016 budget.

There is no justification for this action. The Waters Consulting Group study upon which this new MOU is based is flawed. It compares police pay structures with towns twice Oro Valley’s size.

Committing the Town to future financial conditions is not a prudent fiduciary action on the part of the Town Council. There is no assurance of what the economic situation will be in the future.

The town gave up negotiating our future tax dollars for two years in 2012. Let’s not repeat that same future tax dollar commitment for two more years in 2014.

Negotiating Team

The OVPOA Police Union had four union members for their negotiation team

The Management Negotiation Committee (MNC) membership was assigned by the Town Manager and included the following: Human Resource Director, Procurement Administrator, Town Clerk and Police Commander.

The inclusion of the Human Resources Director (Personnel) and Procurement Administrator (Vendors) makes sense since both have in depth negotiating skills for contract expenditures.

It is questionable whether the inclusion of the Town Clerk brings any negotiation skill set to the situation?

The Management Negotiation Committee (MNC) negotiated with concurrence and guidance from the Town Manager (a.k.a-Chief Executive Officer-CEO-Budget Creator), Finance Director (a.k.a-Budget Setter), Police Chief, and Town Attorney (a.k.a.-Legality of Contracts).

In my opinion, the inclusion of a Police Commander as part of the management negotiating committee (MNC) is biased. This also applies to the guidance of the Police Chief as well. Both have a vested (slanted) interest in keeping their personnel satisfied.

Let’s return to yearly budget setting and control.