UTICA, NY – The city of Utica and its police union are at odds over $620,000 that’s not in the city budget.
Utica’s PBA President Dominick Nitti says it’s simple; his officers simply want to be paid for all of the time they’re at work.
“Any other employee when they come in 15 minutes early, they expect to be paid,” Nitti said. “They’re not going to come in on their own time. It’s 8 hours and 15 minutes of time we’re getting paid for. That’s what the line up pay is for.”
The point of showing up early is the get the officers into their police cruisers and into their patrol zone at the top of the hour, when the prior shift ends.
“Our officers come in 15 minutes early, they’re in roll call. They’re given their car assignments. They’re given their patrol information for whatever zone they’re going to be patrolling that evening,” says Nitti.
The independent contractor negotiating on the city’s behalf says they’re not saying they won’t pay the officers for showing up early. They’re saying ‘don’t show up early’.
“At the present time we feel because of the economic conditions of the city along with the technology that’s in existence that we have in communications, the city does not feel it’s necessary to have line up pay for briefing,” says Ercole Ventura.
There is also the matter of the PBA union contract.
“The mayor’s intention is saying it’s discretionary toward him on who gets it and who doesn’t. No. It’s in our contract stating every police officer gets this pay. It’s contractual, it’s binding and he can’t unilaterally take it out of the budget,” says Nitti.
The city interprets the contract differently.
“In the union contract what it states is the hours of work and compensation they will receive. There’s not place were able to find in the contract that it be granted as a term and condition of employment on a permanent basis,” says Ventura.
The matter will likely end up in binding arbitration, as is the union contract, which expired in March of 2011.