(02/18/13) - Saginaw police unions are turning to the courts. It's an effort to fight the city's plans to out-source police services.
Monday, union leaders announced they filed grievances for multiple contract violations.
This all comes after a proposed contract was delivered to Sheriff Bill Federspiel on Friday.
Saginaw City leaders, desperate to fix a more than $3 million projected deficit, are banking on a proposed contract that calls for the sheriff's department to patrol the city, taking responsibility for 80 full time officers and four part timers.
Sheriff Federspiel has repeatedly said no.
Union leaders say the contract violates at least three parts of police officer's current contracts.
The Saginaw Police Officers Association and the Command Officer Association each filed separate grievances last week. They are also in the process of filing an unfair labor practice complaint against the city. If there's no agreement by July 1, the city plans to cut roughly 20 police jobs.
Union President Doug Wortley believes the city could find itself in the same situation as Flushing Township. Last year, the township disbanded its police department and contracted services with the Genesee County Sheriff.
In January, an arbitrator gave the officers their jobs back after they sued, stating the board violated their contracts. Now it could cost Flushing Township more to re-instate the department than if it had kept running at status quo.
Wortley is calling on city leaders to put less focus on cutting public safety, and find other ways to save.
"A promise was made to the citizens when they voted in the Public Safety Millage that these funds would not change. The city says they get more bang for their buck in fiscal services for tax revenue. I ask where is this bang for the buck? The city needs to restore the general funding to public safety to relieve some of the personnel issues," Wortley said.
Wortley also commended the Sheriff Federspiel and county commissioners for not rushing into an agreement with the city. He says the unions plans to present another proposal to save jobs in the near future.
No word yet on what that proposal might include.
Community leaders in Saginaw will hold a public forum to discuss the city's plans to cut public safety, if no policing deal is reached with the Saginaw County Sheriff.
The community forum will be held Tuesday at Beacon of Hope Church on West Michigan Avenue in Saginaw. It starts at 6:30.
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