Dayton, FOP police union at impasse after disputes about ‘me too’ clauses, pay packages

The city of Dayton and the police union remain at an impasse over contract negotiations and the dispute is headed to conciliation for resolution.

The Dayton police unions’ contracts expired at the end of last year, and Kyle Thomas, president of the Dayton Fraternal Order of Police Lodge No. 44, claims the city was unwilling to come to the bargaining table in a good-faith manner and offer fair and adequate compensation packages that would help address the police department’s well-documented problems with hiring, attrition and retention.

Police officers are overworked, underpaid and do not feel supported by elected and appointed leaders, Thomas said.

“The city needs to show that they care about their employees by coming to the table with reasonable compensation packages,” he said. “Their offer, I told them, does nothing to curb their own employment issues.”

The city said it could not comment because the negotiations are confidential since bargaining is still in process.

The Dayton City Commission earlier this month voted to reject the recommendations of a fact-finder for proposed collective bargaining agreements with the city’s two police unions.

The FOP represents 261 patrol officers in one bargaining unit, while a separate unit represents 61 command officers, who are sergeants and lieutenants.

The FOP’s two contracts expired on Dec. 31. Police are not allowed to strike under Ohio law.

The city has reached collective bargaining agreements with the unions representing the fire department (International Association of Fire Fighters Local 136) and blue-collar and clerical workers (Dayton Public Service Union Local 101, AFSCME Ohio Council 8).

Those contracts call for an economic settlement of $1,500 and a 5% wage increase in the first year and wage increases of 4% and 3% in the following two years.

Credit: Marshall Gorby

Credit: Marshall Gorby

The city offered a take-it-or-leave-it proposal to the police union for the same wage increases that the other unions agreed to, the report states.

The IAFF and DPSU have “me too” clauses in their contracts that basically guarantee that the city will match any better equity or base wage increases that are granted to any other bargaining unit.

Dayton uses me-too clauses as a “sword and a shield” because the city gets bargaining units to agree to subpar contracts because they know if another union gets a better wage increase they will too, Thomas said.

Dayton also uses me-too clauses as an excuse for not offering unions better compensation package by claiming that the city cannot afford higher pay increases for all of its employees, he said.

The fact-finder report calls me-too clauses “buyer-beware” provisions and says their use and purpose become problematic when used to try to create self-inflicted economic limitations in contract negotiations.

“The city should not expect the process of fact-finding or conciliation to protect it from its own self-inflicted liability,” the fact-finder report states.

The city claimed that the FOP cannot point to any reason why its members deserve a larger wage increase than other city employee, according to the report. The report says the city said its proposed offer to the FOP is very competitive.

The city may be trying to achieve standardized and uniform compensation agreements, but the FOP has raised legitimate bargaining issues about the wages of police employees, the report states.

The police department’s pay is significantly lower than other law enforcement agencies in the region, especially those it competes with for officers and recruits, like the Montgomery County Sheriff’s Office, Thomas said.

Data show that there is a pay gap in the top pay rate of its police officers, the fact-finder said. The top pay of the sheriff’s office in 2023 was 9% higher than the police department.

The fact-finder recommended closing the pay gap with an “equity adjustment.”

But after the city commission rejected the recommendations, the matter heads to conciliation, which is a board-ordered final offer settlement procedure for strike-prohibited units.

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