Local & Regional
11:54 am
Fri June 26, 2009

City Reaches Agreement With Unions

Tulsa, OK – Mayor Kathy Taylor announced today the City of Tulsa has reached agreements with the Fraternal Order of Police No. 93 and the Tulsa Firefighters Local 176 on contract amendments which will insure the City can meet the Fiscal Year 2009-2010 budget objectives, as passed by the City Council in a 5-4 vote last week.

"Realizing the serious financial situation the City finds itself in due to its over reliance on a volatile revenue source - sales taxes - the Fraternal Order of Police No. 93 stepped up and agreed to support allowing each officer to take 64 hours of furlough time and return to the City the amount equal to the value of those days through a direct payroll deduction" said Taylor.

"The FOP and Firefighters have found solutions that insure that there is no negative impact on public safety and I thank them for their cooperation", said Taylor.

The contract amendments must be ratified by the membership of the unions.

"This will ensure we are able to graduate and continue the employment of our newly trained police cadets at graduation tomorrow and avoid permanent layoffs that would impact public safety" said FOP President Phil Evans.

"The police department has clearly demonstrated they are a part of the City of Tulsa team and want to do their part to ensure the financial stability of Tulsa during this economic downturn," said Tulsa police chief Ron Palmer. "I am proud of our team."

The American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME Local 1180), which represents City labor employees, continues discussions with the City on a limited number of non-salary contract amendments; however, the AFSCME employees will take 64 hours of furlough as outlined in the budget.

"In order to minimize the impact on these employees, we have agreed with AFSME President Bill Roland's request to deduct the amount of the furloughs equally over each pay period" said Taylor. "While we know this is a difficult request on the AFSME represented employees, we appreciate the team spirit these employees have shown that enables jobs to be saved".

"We have asked to be included in the budget process earlier in the future and as a result, we will be attending and participating in the Mayor's weekly management team meetings," Roland said.

Firefighters will be providing the city with the funds equal to the cost of eight furlough days through a variety of suspension of benefits the Union is entitled to receive under their contracts. "This was a very difficult decision and negotiation, but we believe we have reached an agreement that protects the public by maintaining the current staffing levels of firefighters the public by maintaining the current staffing level of firefighters and is in the best interest of the City with the financial constraints that we face" said Stan May, IAFF Local 176 President.

In addition to furloughs, police, fire and AFSME labor unions agreed to forego raises this fiscal year.

Fire Chief Alan LaCroix and the International Association of Firefighters also agreed to a reorganization of the Fire department which will save over $1.7 million in the next budget year, and more than $3 million over a five-year period.

Police and fire general fund budgets, which are for the most part payroll costs, are funded primarily through sales tax. Sales tax collections, unlike property tax, change dramatically with the economy.

"This is the second time in less than a decade City of Tulsa employees have faced pay cuts, furloughs and layoffs due to the way our City is financed. While our employees have worked hard to provide savings of millions of dollars through high performance government processes, combining city employees from five facilities into one and reducing costs, forcing municipalities to finance vital services through a sales tax is bad public policy" said Taylor.

Taylor and representatives of the Police, Fire and AFSCME union intend to convene a dialogue in Tulsa and with our legislative representatives to discuss broadening the sources of revenues available to finance vital services.

"Two years ago we asked the Legislature to provide Tulsa the same opportunity rural communities have to support public safety through property tax districts, it is time to renew that discussion," said Tulsa fire chief Alan LaCroix.

"I want to congratulate our unions on being part of the solution to the City's budget difficulties. Their leadership and innovative thinking allowed this solution and insured that all employees supported equally the financial impact of this budget." Taylor said.

Police, fire and AFSME unions worked as a team to help the City close its multi-million dollar budget deficit while still providing a core level of services to the citizens.