Labor Complaint Filed Against Coleman


The Fraternal Order of Police filed an unfair labor practice charge on Thursday in response to Mayor Michael Coleman's request that all city union employees accept a pay freeze.

Coleman made the request earlier this month and asked for the unions to respond by Friday, 10TV News reported.

Under Coleman's plan, the pay freeze would save the city $10 million, leaving $3 million on the current budget deficit. In a letter to the unions, Coleman said that if he did not receive a response by Friday then he would have no choice but to initiate more layoffs and trim more city services.

DISCUSS: Does The Union Have A Point? | ONLINE EXTRA: Read Coleman's Statement | Read Coleman's Letter To Unions

Shortly after Coleman made his request public, some union representatives told 10TV News that the mayor's deadline was unrealistic.

The unfair labor practice charge was filed with Ohio's Employment Relations Board and alleges that Coleman's request violated the state's Collective Bargaining Statute, 10TV's Tanisha Mallett reported.

The union alleges that Coleman made a public demand to accept a pay freeze or lose positions. The union also said that Coleman's request came as the two sides were in the process of contract negotiations.

Union president Jim Gilbert said there was not a problem with what Coleman asked for, but rather the manner in which he made the request. According to Gilbert, there are set rules in place outlining how the sides should negotiate the pay freeze.

"We specifically have signed and city's representatives have signed ground rules for how we would bargain in this negotiation process," Gilbert said. "Dealing with the media directly and appealing to our membership through the suggestion of layoffs and things of that nature violated the contract and violated the agreement we have signed with the city."

In a statement released Thursday, Coleman responded to the complaint, saying the city was mired in an economic crisis and staring at a budget deficit totaling $97 million.

"The Fraternal Order of Police has filed a labor complaint against my office for trying to save jobs and preserve essential city services," Coleman said.  "This is an unfortunate attempt to change the subject from the reasonable request I made to all city unions last week. I do not believe it amounts to an unfair labor practice to include labor in the difficult decisions of whether to increase salaries, lay off employees or discontinue city services."

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January 14, 2009: Coleman Asks City Unions For Pay Freeze