Ohio Troopers In Dispute Over Sleeve Length On Shirts

State troopers are hot and bothered because their boss spurned a request to stay cool in these record-high temperatures.

Col. John Born, superintendent of the State Highway Patrol, informed the troopers’ union yesterday that he would let troopers wear short-sleeve shirts earlier than normal this year only if he can decide in future years when to make the switch from long sleeves.

The union decided to keep sweating for another three weeks.

“The patrol talks about how the guys who are working the road are taking drugs off the streets and reducing traffic fatalities. This would have been a way they could have rewarded people … at no cost to anyone,” said Larry Phillips, president of the 1,750-member Ohio State Troopers Association.

“The patrol saw this as an opportunity to make changes to what they lost back in 2009.”

Until July 2009, management made the call on when all troopers in the state wore short sleeves. But under the current contract, short sleeves must be worn only from April 15 through Nov. 1 — a provision that the union wanted and a fact-finder agreed should be included.

Lt. Anne Ralston, patrol spokeswoman, said Born is obeying the contract. The old contract, she said, gave management flexibility to take into account an unseasonably warm spring or cold fall and adjust accordingly.

“The employer was willing to change,” she said of the request to wear short sleeves now. “ However, the union was unwilling to return that original management right back to the employer.”

Phillips said he asked Born’s office on Tuesday about switching to short sleeves sooner at the behest of a trooper who contacted the union.

The long-sleeve uniform is worn with a tie, Phillips said. Combine that with a protective vest, and a trooper’s “body temperature gets significantly higher” — especially in 80-degree weather.

The short-sleeve uniform has an open collar, allowing some “air under the shirt a little bit,” Phillips said.

Why did the union want the contract to specify certain dates for short sleeves?

In the past, Phillips said, management would not switch to short sleeves until May and would return to long sleeves in October. The mandated April 15-Nov. 1 timeline gives troopers, sergeants, dispatchers and electronic technicians a little more time in short sleeves, he said.

From The Columbus Dispatch.

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