Police union prevails on residency question

Arbitrators say Springfield cops can live outside city

 A panel of arbitrators has decided to side with the Springfield police union over the question of a residency requirement for city police officers.

A written decision has not yet been issued, but multiple sources have told Illinois

Times that the city did not prevail in its quest to require police officers to live within city limits.

“Of course, it’s a disappointment,” said Mayor Jim Langfelder, who said that he’s been informed of the decision. “You win some, you lose some.”

The city and union went to binding arbitration in June after contract negotiations broke down. While ruling in favor of the union on residency, arbitrators sided with the city on economic issues, sources said. The panel of three arbitrators is expected to issue a final written decision next week. Police officers have been working without a contract since February, 2015.

Langfelder made residency for city employees a cornerstone of his mayoral campaign two years ago. So far, more than a dozen unions representing city workers have agreed to residency clauses in collective bargaining agreements. The latest such agreement was reached on Oct. 3, when the city council approved a contract with the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, one of the city’s largest unions.

As with other collective bargaining agreements that contain residency clauses, the residency requirement in the IBEW contract grandfathers current employees who now live outside the city so that they would not have to move. Future hires, however, must live in Springfield.

The police contract affects more than 200 officers. According to a 2015 report in the State Journal-Register, more than 30 percent of the city’s employees lived outside Springfield two years ago. Thirty percent of police officers lived outside the city, according the 2015 report, and 45 percent of firefighters lived outside the city.

Firefighters have been working without a contract since February of last year, but arbitrators have not been called in to resolve outstanding issues, including whether firefighters hired in the future should be required to live within city limits.

Contact Bruce Rushton at brushton@illinoistimes.com.

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