An agreement has been reached between the city of New Franklin and the two bargaining units of the Ohio Patrolmen’s Benevolent Association (OPBA) representing nine New Franklin full-time police officers, two sergeants and one lieutenant, granting a 4 percent salary increase for one year, effective Setp. 30.

Negotiations were set to go to conciliation after the OPBA rejected a fact-finders report in early September. The main issues of disagreement were a wage increase and length of contract.

The final tentative agreement states that in addition to the 4-percent raise, each 13 union members will receive a one-time payment of a lump-sum signing bonus of $1,500 as of the date of ratification of the successor contract.

The new two-year contract will be effective from Oct. 1, 2016 through August 31, 2018. However, the 4-percent salary increase is not retroactive. The lump sum payment covered any money the officers felt were due to them, according to Harry Gehm, vice president of New Franklin City Council. Gehm also said the city wanted a two-year agreement, so the police contract ends at the same time as the firefighters’ contract. 

"I am happy that both sides have come to an agreement," said New Franklin Mayor Al Bollas. "The last raise (for these OPBA police department employees) was Oct. 1, 2015," he added.

The new contract also dictates that effective Oct. 1, 2017, the OPBA union employees must contribute by payroll deduction up to 8 percent of the cost of the COBRA rate, premium equivalent, or fully-insured premium rate for all health care coverage.

The expired three-year bargaining agreement ran from Oct. 1, 2013 to Sept. 30, 2016. The city and the OPBA met several times to negotiate a new agreement, but were unsuccessful and an impasse was declared. On April 3, 2017, a fact finder was appointed by the State Employment Relations Board to conduct a hearing and provide a written report.

The city was seeking a one-year contract, while the union was seeking a three-year contract.

For the wage issues, the city had offered a wage increase of 1.5 percent, effective as of the date of ratification, and an additional 1 percent increase, effective on Oct. 1, 2017. The union had requested a 3.5 percent increase in wages in each year of a three-year contract, effective Oct. 1, 2016. It is also sought an additional 2 percent "pension pick-up" to mirror the one given to the city’s full time firefighters.