UPDATE: Urban County Council to get involved in stalled talks between the city and jail officers’ union
The collective bargaining negotiations have been going on for more than eight months
Update from January 11, 2022:
LEXINGTON, Ky. (WTVQ) – Look for Lexington’s Urban County Council to get involved in the stalled collective bargaining negotiations between the jail officers’ union and the city.
At Tuesday’s council work session, a lawyer for the union told the council he would welcome the body’s involvement.
At the end of December, the city called the ongoing negotiation, “deadlocked.”
The two sides haven’t been able to agree on how to address and fix issues at the Fayette County Detention Center, like staffing shortages brought on by massive turnover, and the need for employee pay raises.
In December, the city petitioned the state labor cabinet requesting mediation. The city claims its offer to mediate was turned down by the union.
Original story below from December 29, 2021:
LEXINGTON, Ky. (WTVQ) – No one is arguing Lexington’s jail is understaffed from massive turnover, causing potential safety problems for employees and inmates. No one is disputing that jail employees need better pay. But the city and the jail officers’ union haven’t been able to come to an agreement during collective bargaining negotiations on how to fix those issues. The city calls the eight month negotiation, “deadlocked.”
The city filed a petition Wednesday with the state labor cabinet requesting mediation.
Also this week, the union, the Fraternal Order of Police Town Branch Lodge No. 83, filed a formal complaint with the state labor cabinet, claiming Mayor Linda Gorton and other city officials have tried to coerce the union into accepting a bad collective bargaining agreement.
The Lexington-Fayette County Detention Center houses nearly 1,000 inmates, but has fewer than 200 employees, according to documents the city filed with the state.
Earlier this month, union jail employees told ABC 36 News the staff shortages are leaving jail officers in unsafe situations and that some units in the jail have to be left largely unguarded. The union claims the mayor has tried to talk to employees directly instead of at the bargaining table and shared detailed negotiation information with union members who aren’t part of the negotiation team.
The union claims the city has made unlawful disclosures about the negotiations to some jail employees, creating confusion and discontent among union members. The union says it wants the state to order the city to cease and desist alleged unfair labor practices and post notices in the jail that the union is the exclusive representative for full-time, non-probationary officers.
“We do not believe any of our actions were out of line. We look forward to defending these charges,” said city spokesperson Susan Straub.
For its part, the city claims the union proposed a complete rewrite of the old collective bargaining agreement which would have given the union a host of management rights previously reserved for the city. According to the city’s petition to the state, the city rejected the union’s proposal earlier this year, but offered to immediately implement a wage hike to try to resolve the employee turnover issue. The city says earlier this month it offered another proposal with additional wage increases and bonus payments worth $1.5 million, but that the union hasn’t accepted any wage increase offers.
In its petition to the state labor cabinet, the city claims it offered to mediate with the union, but the union declined.
Now, attention turns to the labor cabinet to see if it will intervene to try to help the city and the union reach an agreement.