Council denies request for collective bargaining
The city of Bonner Springs will not allow collective bargaining for the Fraternal Order of Police, or any other employee unions.
Mayor Clausie Smith cast the tie vote on the divisive issue, which the city manager did not recommend to approve, Monday at the council’s meeting. Approval of the ordinance would have brought the city under the provisions of the Kansas Public Employer-Employee Relations Act, allowing other employee unions to negotiate with the city, and council members voting in opposition were concerned that allowing collective bargaining would create extra costs for the city.
The Bonner lodge of the Fraternal Order of Police requested that the city allow collective bargaining in October of last year. John Helin, city manager, said in a report to the council that moving under PEERA to allow collective bargaining for the police organization would entitle all city employees to form a union and obligate the city to collective bargaining with every organized work unit.
Helin reported that there would be additional costs for dealing with grievances through unions and the city of Edwardsville told him the cost to negotiate contracts with their police department was more than $30,000.
Before the discussion, Council members Racheal Haas and Jeff Harrington both disclosed they have relatives in the police department — Haas’s husband and Harrington’s son-in-law — but had not received any outside influence in the matter.
Andy Bair, president of the Bonner FOP lodge, said the lodge recognized the city’s efforts to provide competitive wages and other benefits, but allowing collective bargaining was necessary to provide job security and retain its young patrol officers, noting that the city has lost 25 officers in the last 15 years.
“Part of the collective bargaining process is to try to ensure that the things that are good remain in the future,” Bair said. “The FOP has no inclination, and we don’t want to give the impression, that we think everything in Bonner Springs is wrong… we want to protect the things that are good.”
Council member Eric Freeman made the motion to approve collective bargaining, seconded by George Cooper.
Haas said she was concerned about how much money the city was spending to train officers, only to lose them to other departments once their required year of service to the city was up. She said she didn’t think it was too great a request to allow collective bargaining.
Harrington said that he was proud of the city’s police officers and thought they were of a higher quality than any other city in the area, but he believed there would be too great a cost to the city to allow collective bargaining.
Harrington and other council members noted the city has done two salary surveys in the last nine years to ensure the city’s salaries are competitive and is currently conducting another survey.
Votes in support of the motion to approve were Cooper, Freeman, Haas and Jack Knight. Votes in opposition were Harrington, George Reeves, Rodger Shannon and Tom Stephens.
Mayor Clausie Smith cast the deciding “no” vote.
“I have the greatest respect for our police officers, and I want to pay them the highest possible salaries,” he said. “However, at this point, my vote is no.”
In other business, the council:
• Heard the mayor proclaim March 12-16 as Flood Safety Awareness week in the city.
• Approved all items on the consent agenda, with council members Stephens, Harrington and Cooper each abstaining on a check within the claims for city operations related to their employment.
• Heard a request from resident Rick Duncan that the city lower its fee to license a pet that has not been neutered or spayed.