Derby police and fire departments and Sedgwick County EMS were called Monday afternoon to Atwoods after a person in Atwoods collapsed and the carbon monoxide detectors began activating. Employees of Walmart’s Financial Shared Services division were also evacuated as a precaution. Derby firefighters searched the building and found high levels of carbon monoxide, which were quickly found to be from a forklift that had been operating inside Atwoods. It was putting off high levels of carbon monoxide, according to Derby Fire Chief Brad Smith. The person who became ill was transported to a Wichita hospital, but did not have life-threatening injuries.
Public input sought for Nov. 13 hearing on fire, police organizations
The city of Derby is considering rescinding a 1987 decision to negotiate with organized employee groups, as negotiations with a police group linger on and firefighters applied to also have their own organization.
“This decision made 25 years ago is not necessarily the best way to operate going forward,” said Kathy Sexton, city manager, who has recommended rescinding the decision. “Today’s city council can change it and should consider whether Derby taxpayers are best served by the current system.”
Public input is being sought on the issue and those who wish to speak to the council are asked to attend the Nov. 13 council meeting. Council meetings are held at city hall, 611 Mulberry Rd., beginning at 6:30 p.m.
Derby is one of 11 cities in the state which allow the meet and confer under the Public Employer-Employee Relations Act, passed in 1971. Derby moved under PEERA in 1987, after employees of the Public Works Department organized under the Service Employees International Union Local 513.
That group disbanded in 1994, but the Fraternal Order of Police Lodge No. 16 became the organization for negotiations by police officers and master police officers in 2005. Sexton said the employees were dissatisfied with department leadership at that time.
Sexton expressed some dissatisfaction on the negotiations with the FOP this year. The meet-and-confer proceedings have been ongoing since March and an agreement is still not hammered out, long past the city’s deadline to set a 2013 budget.
“Extending meet-and-confer proceedings beyond the budget submission date places the city in a rob-Peter-to-pay-Paul situation with respect to all financial issues,” she wrote in her report to the council. “The budget for a specific purpose or department, such as to enhance pay or benefits, cannot be increased without cutting a program or project already approved by the city council or amending the budget for the ensuing year.”
Steve Bukaty, attorney for the FOP who negotiates with many cities, including Derby, said finalizing contracts routinely happens late in the year. He said the process has been delayed due to the FOP’s efforts to completely overhaul the police department’s pay system into a stair-step process and grievance procedures.
“It is a change that will be better for the city and department,” he said.
He said the FOP is no longer negotiating out of dissatisfaction with department leadership. In addition, it is not an effort by officers who do not want to do their share of the work.
“These are very dedicated police officers,” he said.
The problem most officers place as a top priority is the turnover rate in the department, Butaky said.
“Turnovers cost these departments a lot of money,” he said.
Cities can spend over $30,000 to send a new employee to the Law Enforcement Training Center and then lose them quickly.
“If you pay your people decently and treat them decently, there is not a lot of turnover,” he said.
Issues with a perceived high turnover rate and the benefit of additional training and other opportunities through the International Association of Firefighters has led all eligible employees of the Derby Fire Department to start the process of chartering IAFF Local 4888, according to Carson Chatwell, president of the local.
“The recruiting and retention of talent is key,” he said. “I believe the city and union can work together.”
Higher wages are drawing local firefighters to the Wichita and Sedgwick County departments, he said. Due to Derby’s close proximity, local residents can change jobs and not have to move their families from the community, he said.
He also said the employees are not dissatisfied with department leadership and they see the organization as an opportunity to better improve the department.
“We don’t like to cause problems,” Chatwell said. “We like to fix problems, that is why we are firefighters.”
Chatwell said the charter for Local 4888 was approved Oct. 12 and four days later the city announced its plans to rescind the decision to allow collective bargaining. That has put the process on hold, he said.
Sexton is proposing a staff-wide advisory council to represent all departments with employee concerns. Currently, staff is allowed feedback through surveys, but this would formalize the process and establish a long-term process, she said.
She also would like the police department to be on the same holiday schedule as the rest of city staff and is recommending distributing the cost of that additional day as a one-time payment to all of the FOP members.
"Rob, I respect and appreciate your opinion on this matter. It shows that you CARE deeply about what happens in your city. As a Derby Police Officer and a resident of Derby I do my best to make the community my family lives in the very best. What Police Officers, Fire Fighters, Public Works, and other city of Derby employees do on a day to day basis is not always visible to the community. If you think that all a Derby Police Officer does is chase stray dogs and recover stolen bicycles than you are sadly mistaken. Why both of those things are important they hardly make up the majority of my day. Enforcing the traffic laws, serving warrants, pushing stalled vehicles, patrolling for burglars, and arresting shoplifters are all part of my daily duties. The violent crimes and sex offenses are fortunately kept to a minimum in our city, and when they do occur we do our best to solve those cases quickly and quietly. I encourage you to go in and speak with the chief and look over some of our crime statistics...it may surprise you. "
"Public works employers have a higher risk of injury and or death more than Derby fire or police. Not that we shouldn%u2019t respect what they do but benefits and pay should be evaluated by job performance not chasing stray dogs, stolen bikes or finder benders. Sitting in the Dillon%u2019s parking lot for two hours on the phone is not that difficult."
"I have been following this for the last few days and the more I think about it the more I get upset. Why are we treating our public safety employees so poorly? Derby is not small anymore and we need professionals that can do their job and do it well. So our answer is to get rid of the unions? Or do we just keep paying for new employees to be trained? Neither answer is right in my mind. I would rather have police and fire that are veterans and are good at their jobs protecting me and my family first and foremost. As a taxpayer I do not want to keep seeing our money as a city going to train new people since all our public safety leaves to go get a more competitive wage elsewhere. My family moved to Derby because of what a great community it is. This starts with the public safety such as police and firefighters. If I was in the city of Derby's position I would think hard on what is the best choice for the city because it's pretty clear it would be cheaper to pay these employees what they deserve than to keep filling positions. Why would we expect them to stay if they can go up the road to Wichita or Sedgwick County Sherriff's or Fire Depts and make more money. I am for them all the way pay them what they deserve and treat them with the respect they have earned since they are the ones working through the day and night protecting us while we sleep!!!!!!!!"
"My I.A.M. business rep was telling me about this at work. Being a resident of Derby let me tell you how much this pisses me off! The city manager says that the council should consider what is best for the tax payers?!?!?!? I think she really wants them to consider what makes her job easier. I think they also need to consider that this town was built on the backs of Union Labor! It was all the aircraft workers moving here in the 70's and 80's that made this town what it is! Without us this place is Haysville! I am spreading the word to all my I.A.M. brothers and sisters that live here in Derby. I hope to see you all there on Nov. 13th, and then again when we vote for city council next spring!!!!"
"I really am concerned on how the city is handling this situation. It%u2019s bad enough that both Fire and Police are under staffed for the size of city that they are protecting and now the city manager does not want the unions to negotiate. I am also really bothered that we are wasting money by training these courageous people and then watching go to other cities but the city is willing to spend 8 million dollars on new parks and don%u2019t get me started on all the trees that have been planted in the corner of intersection blocking view of traffic. As a citizen I would feel more comfortable knowing that I have veteran Police and Firefighter personnel protecting my family and neighbors instead of new person that may have a week on the job because of the turnover rate. I believe that we have a great city but it all starts with public safety personnel. I have talked to a few of my neighbors and they are just as shocked as me. I hope that the city council makes the right decision because this decision does not only affect the Firefighters and Police officers but their family and us as citizens. "
"How much more are we going to let Mrs. Sexton give away of our city? She started with 911 and you go into the police department to get an officer they have to call 911 to get an officer to you even if there are officers at the station. And now she wants to take away any voice of the people that protect our city and us 24/7. What guarantee can she give us citizens that she will listen to the working commitees that she wants to create? Who will she have to answer to? No one that is who. Maybe someone should ask how much money the city spends on special events ie. BBQ cook-off, Christmas lights and decorations and so on. Are we suppose to believe this is donated money from a small community? Who is checking the books? If the city employees are costing the city too much maybe we should be outsourcing all the work. Hey maybe Sedgwick County would be interested in a Fire and Police Department. "
"I think that the city should keep the PEERA! Fire and Police put their lives on the line everyday! The city needs to realize that they are spending more money to train an employee well and have them split to a better pay/benefits job, then to negotiate with the unions. If we pay our public safety employees competitively, they won't want to leave anymore. "
"This makes me sad and mad. Its pretty selfish to not pay the Firefighters and Police officers what they deserve when everyday they go to work they are putting there life on the line for others. I am disappointed to be apart of a community that doesnt realize that. Show support and respect for the men and women who put everyone elses saftey before there own. "
"I believe that the city and the union should work together. Pay the fire department and police department what they should. They are the ones that put their lives on the line everyday to keep this city safe. I'm behind the police and FD 100%. Pay the workers what they should be making instead of wasting money paying for their training for them to leave for something better. "
"It's strange how these things come about when it doesn't benefit the city manager. She can have a 4 day work week while public safety works 24-7. She gets an $800 a month vehicle allowance while other city leaders drive a city car. She makes the decision to eliminate emergency dispatching in the city to "save money", yet all employees went without performance raises. Ms. Sexton recently had her evaluation, but the council minutes don't say if she received a raise. The citizens of Derby need to educate themselves as to what is really happening in the city and behind the walls of city hall. Our firefighters and officers work bad hours for bad pay. They need the unions to have someone represent their best interests as a whole and not the best interests of one person."
"Being involved in a business myself, I can tell you that it takes a lot of labor hours and money to retrain an employee for a job. You should pay your employees based on their knowledge, experience, certifications, etc; If they need a union to fight for this and make that happen, then so be it! Police and Fire personnel put their lives in harms way everyday. When you sit behind a desk you are pretty sure that you are going home at the end of your shift. Our Police and Fire are never guaranteed that with fires and crazy people with guns, etc; I as a citizen of this town would expect them to be paid well for a job they love and one that most of us would never do!! We are losing so many to Wichita and Sedgwick County that really would rather be working in their hometown."
"Sounds to me Kathy sexton want more power to push the employees around an not pay them for the work they do. By doing this it will give her more control. That's something that does not need to happen "
"I heard about this the other day and it makes me sad. We should support those that step into harms way to protect us."
"Are unions really our cities biggest problem right now? I'm in a union and I'm about tired of being demonized because I ask for a little better deal. "