Last time the city of Portland tried to sit down with the Portland Police Association to negotiate a new contract, back on August 1, the union never showed up. And the city waited half an hour or so before pulling the plug and going on with the rest of its day.
The no-show wasn't much of a surprise, given that, just days before, the PPA filed an unfair labor practice complaint over the city's insistence that meetings on city property would be public.
But now the city says that likely won't be a problem moving forward. The city has planned another meeting, for tomorrow, August 15, and it says the PPA has sent an RSVP confirming it will be there and acknowledging that reporters and others, presumably Portland Copwatch, will be there, too.
The meeting is set for 8:30 to noon in Room 2500A in the city's 1900 Building at 1900 SW 4th.
"They're going to be there," says Karen Sorensen, executive assistant to Human Resources Director Anna Kanwit.
But what about the labor practice complaint? Sorensen, checking with labor relations manager Jerrell Gaddis, says it's still in place. "It is as stands," she says.
Not that there weren't some talks. A sign-in sheet at the Bureau of Human Resources' front desk lists a visit from PPA President Daryl Turner at 4:45 PM yesterday. Deputy City Attorney Mark Amberg, named in the union's complaint, also signed in around the same time.
So what's behind the union's seeming shift—embracing a compromise from Mayor Charlie Hales' first reported by the Mercury this spring? I haven't heard back from Turner yet. Turner, however, has twice written lengthy posts on the union's online newsletter on the state of negotiations. In the first, he said no meetings should be held public. In the second, he chastised Hales for insisting the two sides had compromised when, Turner says, they hadn't yet.
Update 2:20 PM: Turner posted a statement on his newsletter, half-an-hour after this post went up, confirming that the two sides met yesterday, as I first reported above, and reached an agreement along the lines of what Hales laid out (and something a lot like what they did last time the contract was up). Turner casts the decision as a victory for collaboration.
Tomorrow morning, the PPA will meet with the city for a negotiation session over our successor collective bargaining agreement. Yesterday, we sat down with the city’s labor negotiators and collaboratively worked out an agreement with the city over how our bargaining sessions will proceed. As we did in 2010, we have agreed to alternate locations for our bargaining sessions. When the session is held at the city, it will be open to the public. However, public observers must comply with specific rules, such as no blogging, recording, or disrupting the negotiations session. When held at the PPA, the session will be private, with no observers allowed. We came to this agreement with the city because the complex issues concerning our wages, hours and working conditions are far too important to be bogged down by a dispute about the mechanics of bargaining.
This is how collective bargaining is supposed to work. The parties meet, discuss the issues, and collaborate over an agreement that satisfies both parties’ interest. We hope that this example of collaboration that will set the tone for a positive outcome to our contract negotiations. After all, the PPA and the city do share one important thing in common: the need to have a collective bargaining agreement that protects the safety, benefits, and rights of the police officers who make Portland one of the safest, most livable, and business friendly cities in the country.