Grove City Council approves new 3-year contract with police dispatchers

Alan Froman
ThisWeek group

Grove City Council on March 1 unanimously approved a new three-year contract with the city's police dispatchers.

The contract, which is retroactive to Jan. 1, provides wage increases of 3% in 2021 and 2.75% in both 2022 and 2023 to the dispatchers, who are represented by the Fraternal Order of Police, Ohio Labor Council.

Grove City municipal and safety complex

"We think it's a good package," city administrator Chuck Boso said. "It makes us competitive with (other) communities and puts (our employees) in line with" other the salaries other central Ohio police dispatchers receive, he said.

"Right now our top dispatcher under our 2020 agreement is at $63,024 a year," Boso said. "With this agreement over three years, that will top out at $68,536."

By comparison, he said, under the current 2020 contracts, the highest-paid dispatcher in Dublin earns $69,905; Grandview, $69,000; Westerville, $68,494; Worthington, $68,099; Bexley, $66,393; Columbus, $64,334; and Whitehall, $63,324.

"The union is very pleased with the new three-year agreement. The city was very fair with the unit both in the wage offer, as well as accepting our proposal on the issue of longevity," said Andrea Johan, senior staff representatives with the FOP, OLC.

The contract adds a new longevity step, with employees in their 25th through 29th year receiving an annual bonus of $2,250, representing a $350 increase over the previous step.

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The union proposed the additional longevity step because dispatchers, who are civilians, must work several more years than uniformed officers before they quality for Ohio Public Employees Retirement System benefits, Johan said.

The city will continue to pay 85% of dispatchers' health insurance premiums in the new contract, with the employees contributing the remaining 15%.

The new contract increases the probationary period for new hires from one year after hire to one year after they finish training, Boso said. 

The shift differential provided to dispatchers who work between 3:30 p.m. and 7:30 a.m. was increased from $1 to $1.25 an hour, which was another proposal offered by the union, Johan said.

New dispatchers often are assigned to work second and third shifts, and having an increased shift differential could help make working as a dispatcher for Grove City a more attractive option, she said.

The contract also includes a change in substance-abuse testing, with the percentage of employees who randomly could be tested increasing from 25% to 50%, Boso said.

Fifteen employees in the union will be affected by the new contract, he said.

The union completed its vote to ratify the contact Jan. 14, Johan said.

Council also approved an ordinance that adds five additional steps to the salary schedule for nonunion employees. That includes employees who aren't covered by the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees and police officers and dispatchers who are represented by the FOP, Boso said.

The city currently has nine pay grades, with 15 steps for nonunion employees, he said.

"Every year, you increase your step so those individuals who are now with the city for 15 years are locked in with no pay increase, and as pay increases for union people, they would be left behind," Boso said. 

The increase to 20 steps (or 20 years) represents the average tenure employees have with the city, he said.

The compensation plan provides a 2.6% pay increase per step, which reflects the average pay increase over the past three years of collective bargaining with union employees, Boso said.

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