Arbitration is the Next Step in Franklin Lakes Police Negotiations
The Borough of Franklin Lakes, New Jersey will head to arbitration to settle its contract negotiations with the Policeman’s Benevolent Association Local 150. Nineteen officers are part of that union.
The most recent contract between the police force and the borough expired at the end of 2014. That contract will remain in use until a new one is established.
The two groups have met several times in an attempt to negotiate a new contract. Twice they tried mediation, but nothing was successful. Mayor Frank Bivona wants to treat the police fairly, but claims the union continues to come to him with the same old demands, refusing to truly negotiate on any of the matters in question.
The union claims the borough is taking a hard line in negotiations and stated they want to add steps to the salary guide that would affect officers with fewer than eight years of service in a negative manner. He stated that he understands taxes are an issue and he knows the borough wants to keep them low, but believes that should not be accomplished by punishing law enforcement officers. The new plan would add additional two or three steps in the ladder to the top salary level, increasing the amount of time it takes officers to reach that point. Specifically, five current officers would be forced to wait a decade before reaching the top salary of $124,000 instead of seven years.
Issues with health insurance coverage are also in dispute. It currently costs the borough $30,000 per officer per year for health insurance coverage. In 2018, the ACA will require the borough to pay tax on any amount over $27,500, so the borough is asking officers to offset this, in exchange for a pay increase. The ruling of the arbitrator will be binding for both parties.