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POLICE UNION TO DECIDE THIS WEEK WHAT DIRECTION TALKS SHOULD TAKE

Salt Lake police union members are set to meet this week to determine which direction union President Dave Greer will take in trying to get a contract for the 360 officers.

The collective bargaining agreement covers all officers in the department, and the 240 union members will decide which of the two versions they want, Greer said."This will be a kind of majority approval of which angle we want to approve," he said following Friday's meeting between police and city negotiators.

"It's kind of a hard-pay version versus a benefits version. Because either way it puts money in their pockets, I just have to find out which they want."

Officers have gone without a pay raise for four years and without merit increases for two. Police and firefighters last year rejected contracts with the city and have been working under an ordinance since then.

A rash of blue flu hit the department last July Fourth weekend, and officers are starting to get the sniffles now.

Greer said he has been working to avoid any wildcat job actions, including a non-union sanctioned blue flu and is setting up a union meeting to talk about the options.

"I'm going to try to make it Wednesday. The reason for the meeting is because I need some input from the officers to give me some direction on how to proceed, philosophically," Greer said. "`We have a couple of different ways we can achieve a contract."

After getting direction from union members, Greer will head back to the negotiating table on Friday.

"When we left today, it was because we have a week's worth of work to do before the next meeting," he said following Friday's negotiating session. "We have a lot of number crunching to do."

But issues such as overtime pay and uniform allowances likely will end up in court.

"It looks like we have a disagreement over the uniform allowance over whether the city is in compliance" with federal laws, said Greer. "And I think both sides agree it needs to be decided" in court.

After seven years, officers lose their allowance to buy the $200 pants and $85 shirts, along with gun and holsters, that make up their required uniforms..

"That will probably just end up in litigation down the road. There's no sense in having negotiations come to a stand still over something that has to be decided in the courts."

Additionally, Greer said the Fair Labor Standards Act allows employees to decide whether to take time off or cash for overtime work. The city is "consistently violating" that law.