OCEAN CITY – Ratification of a collective bargaining agreement with the local lodge of the Fraternal Order of Police (FOP) was passed 6-1 this week by the City Council, marking the beginning of a second, three-year collective bargaining agreement.
The passing of the resolution will put the new contract into affect July 1, 2008 and will continue through June 30, 2011.
Although he did join Council member Margaret Pillas in voting against the resolution, Councilman Jay Hancock voiced concerns with the length of the contract.
Hancock said a three-year contract on the eve of a recession was unwise, mainly because the contract was based on last year’s property assessments.
“We better tighten our belts and prepare for a downturn,” said Hancock of the economy.
Hancock also pointed out concerns with the COLA, cost of living allowance, that was included in the contract. Despite concerns, Hancock noted that he would vote for the changes, seeing no other options for the town.
“I am concerned that if we didn’t provide the COLA we might end up in arbitration. Perhaps for right now, it’s the best deal we could strike,” said Hancock.
Pillas agreed that there were aspects of the contract that concerned her.
Mayor Rich Meehan highlighted the comprise and idea sharing that occurred throughout the negotiations.
“This was the result of lengthy and ongoing negotiations,” Meehan said.
The first FOP agreement was signed in April 2005, marking the first multi-year agreement of its kind for the town. The Career Firefighters and Paramedics of Ocean City, International Association of Firefighters (IAFF) Local 4269 followed last year with a multi-year collective bargaining agreement.
Meehan maintained that the three-year contract was the best move for the FOP and for the town, despite the economic concerns outlined by Hancock, a former Ocean City police officer.
“Its extremely effective to the city to be able to negotiate a three-year contract,” Meehan said. :We were able to strike a contract that I think was fair and will serve the city well for the next three years.”
Members of the FOP negotiation team were present to sign the contract, which will go into effect July 1.