County seeks labor negotiator to assist with road patrol talks

Published Mar 18, 2017 at 4:00pm

Oneida County is in the market for a consultant to help it negotiate a contract with its road patrol deputies.

An experienced chief labor negotiator who is familiar with the ins and outs of binding arbitration, also called interest arbitration, is being sought to help negotiate an agreement with the Oneida County Police Benevolent Association. The union has about 90 sworn officers (road patrol personnel) and 50 civilian members, including 911 dispatchers. 

The PBA employees are working under the terms of the contract that expired Dec. 31, 2015.

Responses to the advertisement are due March 21. The financial offer must specify hourly rates.

The solicitation for a negotiator specifies only the PBA. State law on collective bargaining for public employees, otherwise known as the Taylor Law, imposes compulsory interest arbitration to resolve negotiating impasses on police officer and firefighter unions — but not any other employees.

There is no impasse at this time between the PBA and county. Negotiations are still in the preliminary stage. 

Special Assistant County Attorney Amanda Cortese said the county is seeking a chief labor negotiator because bargaining that is subject to binding arbitration is a specialized procedure.

The county generally negotiates with its unions through its Personnel and Law departments, with assistance from outside counsel in some instances.

The successful respondent must have been the “chief labor negotiator in at least three separate collective bargaining negotiations with a bargaining unit representing police or deputy sheriffs consisting of at least 40 sworn officer unit members that have concluded through interest arbitration,” according to the request for proposals. 

Separately, the county is in negotiations with Oneida County Sheriff’s Department Employees Local 1249, which comprises corrections officers, civil deputies and court attendants.

At the last meeting the two sides agreed to a joint declaration of impasse. The paperwork has not been filed yet with the state Public Employment Relations Board, according to county Personnel Commissioner John P. Talerico.

Union members are working under the contract that expired at the end of 2015.

There are contracts in place with the other three bargaining unions that represent county employees. The county has more than 1,575 full-time positions.