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Orland Park and Police Union Could Be Headed for Arbitration

Police union president and village officials hope contract negotiations can progress after months of stalling without the legal tangles of arbitration, but that depends on agreeing on a contract soon.

Orland Park and Police Union Could Be Headed for Arbitration

The clock is ticking for the and Metropolitan Alliance of Police Chapter 159 to come to a contract agreement before sitting down with lawyers.

The local MAP chapter, representing Orland Park’s sworn police officers, is looking for a contract similar to the one they worked with for about the last five years. That contract technically expired in May 2011, though without a new contract, the officers are still working under those terms.

The village wants all employees to pay a greater percentage of their health care benefits costs or, as described it, have “more skin in the game.” The two sides have not reached an agreed-upon contract almost a year later since negotiations first began.

MAP Chapter 159 President and officer Ron Ahrendt requested Monday night that the Orland Park Village Board direct Grimes to resume “meaningful negotiations prior to our scheduled arbitration date.” The scheduled start for arbitration is Feb. 29.

Ahrendt also requested that the board direct Grimes to “use comparable contract language from our surrounding communities – not from the east coast.”

He also said the requested “200 to 500 percent cost increases for benefits don’t seem fair to my membership.”

While he didn’t specify, Ahrendt said proposals had been made by MAP 159 could lessen overtime costs.

Ahrendt said union negotiations have been in a halt since Sept. 29, aside from a Dec. 5 discussion where the arbitration start date was chosen.

“No one has more skin in the game than the Orland Park police officers,” Ahrendt said. “We potentially face death every day to preserve public safety.”

Grimes said after the meeting that a mediator was brought in to the contract negotiations without any prior notice given to the village, at the third formal negotiating session held between MAP 159 and the village in June.

”The first session they brought their proposal,” Grimes said. “The second session we brought our proposal, and at the third they brought in a mediator.”

Grimes said the proposals for health care coverage costs is similar to all other village employees.

“We want our employees to have more skin in the game regarding health care,” Grimes said. “That’s the same position we have for everyone. We want to get back to the bargaining table. We think we can get to an agreement. We’re getting to agreements with our other bargaining units.”

Mayor Dan McLaughlin said after Ahrendt spoke that he didn’t think a village board meeting was an appropriate place for negotiations, but also said he believes an agreement can be met between the union and village.

“I am confident you two will continue to bargain in good faith, both sides,” McLaughlin said. “I think progress will be made soon.”

Ahrendt said that his goal in speaking was not to negotiate publically, but to call the board’s attention to the lack of negotiating happening.

“I’m an eternal optimist,” Ahrendt said after the meeting. “I’m hoping we can get together and somehow work it out. I don’t think anything we’re asking is out of the ordinary. It’s similar to the last four-year contract.”

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