OC, Police Union Ratify New Bargaining Agreement

OCEAN CITY — Ocean City officials and the town’s Fraternal Order of Police (FOP) Lodge 10 negotiating teams this week formally signed a ratified three-year contract covering a wide variety of issues, including wages, benefits and scheduling.

The Town of Ocean City’s negotiating team in March reached the new agreement with the FOP Lodge 10, the police union that includes the members of the Ocean City Police Department (OCPD). After an often-contentious battle, in 2004 the FOP Lodge 10 members earned the right to collectively bargain with the town of Ocean City after the issue was approved through referendum by the voting public.

In the years since, the collective bargaining agreement between to the town of Ocean City and the FOP has been renegotiated and renewed largely without conflict. The FOP collective bargaining agreement covers a wide gamut of issues from, of course, wages and benefits, pay scales and hours of work and overtime. It also covers areas such as discipline, pension plan contributions, grievance and arbitration procedures, uniform allowances and even strike, boycott and lockout protections.

On Monday, the contract negotiated in March was formally ratified and signed by members of the town’s negotiation team and the FOP’s representatives.

“I want to thank the members of the FOP negotiating team and all of the members of the FOP for working with us,” Mayor Rick Meehan said. “These can be difficult processes sometimes but we all came to the table and shared ideas. We listened to what your major concerns were and we knew some of your major concerns.

Meehan said the town’s negotiators worked through each and every issue on the table with the FOP.

“We tried to address them and we did some bargaining back and forth,” he said. “As they say in negotiations, you know they are really good if nobody is happy. For the most part, I think we all are pleased with the final result. I think it shows we are one community and we can work together. The process does work if you go in with the right attitude, and I think everybody on both negotiation teams had that right attitude.

Meehan said negotiating the FOP’s collective bargaining agreement is often tedious and time consuming.

“We tried to meet where we could to make sure we were fulfilling your needs and your representation of the membership and also our representation of the community,” he said. “It’s a lot of waiting and a lot of sitting but it’s worth it and I am very proud to be signing this document today.”

The FOP’s negotiating team included ranking OCPD officers and independent third-party negotiator Mike Davey, who handles similar negotiations with jurisdictions around the state and is always happy to work with the town of Ocean City.

“We want to thank the Mayor and Council and the bargaining team,” he said. “I do a lot of these all over the state and, believe it or not, this is one of the few places I enjoy going to because it never gets heated, everybody seems to get along and everybody understands everybody’s position.”

Davey said the collective bargaining process between the town and its police department has been a healthy one.

“Nobody gets their feelings hurt and that’s just a good way to bargain,” he said. “I think this was just another example of the collective bargaining process working in Ocean City as it has for the last number of years.”

The ratified and signed collective bargaining agreement will be in place for three years from 2019 to 2021. The costs to the town associated with the new agreement include over $687,000 for wages and other incidentals, along with $480,000 in pension benefits.

About The Author: Shawn Soper

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Shawn Soper has been with The Dispatch since 2000. He began as a staff writer covering various local government beats and general stories. His current positions include managing editor and sports editor. Growing up in Baltimore before moving to Ocean City full time three decades ago, Soper graduated from Loch Raven High School in 1981 and from Towson University in 1985 with degrees in mass communications with a journalism concentration and history.