Attorney predicts continued delay on union contract

JOHNSTOWN — The city’s labor attorney on Friday predicted finalization of a new city police union contract might not occur until late this year, nearly two years after the last contract expired.

Attorney Elayne Gold of the Albany law form of Roemer Wallens Gold & Mineaux LLP said the arbitration process continues for ongoing negotiations involving a new deal for the Johnstown Police Benevolent Association.

A neutral Interest Arbitration Panel met July 23 to help resolve some of the issues preventing a new contract between the city and the PBA. The city’s last contract with its police union expired Dec. 31, 2016. Both sides have been at impasse since August 2017. But the labor dispute has now reached an anticipated final level involving the New York State Public Employment Relations Board.

Gold said that as a result of the Interest Arbitration hearing involving the PBA, closing summaries will soon be submitted to the Interest Arbitration Panel. She said a closed-door, executive session of that panel then takes place.

“The panel may have one or more sessions and a final award will ultimately be issued, likely no sooner than late fall,” Gold estimated.

City Treasurer Michael Gifford on Friday concurred with Gold’s assessment on new police contract status.

“There’s nothing on that yet,” he said.

Gifford said it would “correct” to assume everyone involved in the city’s ongoing negotiations with the police union wants a new contract wrapped up by year’s end.

The last union negotiations involving the Johnstown PBA also involved impasse. That PBA retroactive contract was ratified by the Common Council in July 2013. The union, at that time, received 2.7 percent average annual pay raises through 2016. Both sides ended up agreeing with the help of a PERB-assigned mediator in December 2012.

City government previously resolved its two other union contracts – Johnstown Fire Firefighters Association Local 779; and CSEA, AFSCME Local 1000, employees of the city’s Department of Public Works and Water Department – in 2017.

Michael Anich covers Johnstown and Fulton County news. He can be reached at [email protected]

By Josh Bovee

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