East St. Louis police layoff talks postponed another day
Looks like the city of East St. Louis and its police officers will wait another day to settle their ongoing layoff dispute.
City officials and police officers will meet tomorrow in what is basically a last attempt to avoid the layoff of 16 East St. Louis police officers (Other releases and stories have listed the number of possible police officer layoffs at 19, but only 16 East St. Louis Fraternal Order of Police members have received layoff notices).
A negotiator for the Fraternal Order of Police, Bill Mehrtens, says members want to delay the layoffs, which are scheduled to take effect January 1, to give the city and police a chance to negotiate in good faith. If that doesn’t happen, Mehrtens said, the union may take legal action.
But according to Mehrtens, he may not have to wait for the results of Tuesday's meeting. The city, he says, has yet to approve the 2011 budget. Any layoffs are in anticipation that the council will approve city manager Deletra Hudson's recommendation, which amounts to negotiating in bad faith.
Back in September, an arbitrator awarded officers a three percent pay raise in 2011, Mehrtens says. He doesn't believe the city has proven it can't pay the officers what they deserve.
And the layoffs will only compound the overtime problem for the cash-strapped city.
"You’ve got to have a certain minimum number of officers on each given day and time," he says. "It's in our contract."