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Forward police agree on pact

| Wednesday, Dec. 12, 2012, 3:22 a.m.

The details are being worked out for a new police contract in Forward Township.

Forward Township supervisors on Monday gave preliminary approval to a new collective bargaining agreement that has the approval of the police union, Teamsters Local 205.

The new two-year contract replaces an agreement that police worked under for much of 2012, which did not have the union's approval.

A state Labor Relations Board hearing board officer issued a decision last month that voided the earlier contract agreement on grounds it constituted an unfair labor practice because it was made without the police department's union representative being present.

The new agreement will reinstate several paid time off days that police conceded on the voided contract and calls for across the board pay increases of two percent annually, according to the union.

The agreement also contains a provision that allows the township to hire a non-union police chief.

“We're trying to get a chief from the township from outside the bargaining unit,” said supervisor chairman Tom DeRosa.

The township has been without a police chief since 2009 when Tom Staley retired. Staley was a member of the police union. Officer-in-charge Robert Curdie has been acting head of the department since May 2010.

DeRosa said some of the contract language is still being adjusted.

Supervisor Dave Magiske described the contract as fair to both the union and township.

“Forward Township now has a negotiated contract,” said Magiske. “We're feeling good about that.”

Carl Bailey, who is the union local's chief executive officer, said paid time off days that had been conceded under the voided contract have been reinstated. Police will stay with UPMC Healthcare, which was offered under the voided contract. Initially, the union wanted police to stay under a Highmark Blue Cross plan. The township has defended the switch, saying it saves them $1,200 per officer on a monthly basis.

Curdie said he would prefer to wait until the contract is finalized before commenting.

Overall, DeRosa said he found the union was receptive to township ideas.

“I don't know why it took so long,” he said. “We didn't make many adjustments to the contract we had last year.”

Eric Slagle is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-664-9161, ext. 1966, or eslagle@tribweb.com.

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