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Ogdensburg police union talks stalled until new city manager arrives

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One Ogdensburg Police Department union and the city are at impasse in their contract talks, but the arrival next month of a new city manager is apparently preventing the stalemate from being put in writing.

Acting City Manager Philip A. Cosmo said Thursday that the Ogdensburg Policemen’s Benevolent Association that represents the department’s 21 patrolmen indicated in early summer it would stop negotiating with the city and seek an impasse. He has yet, however, to receive that declaration in writing from the PBA. That would signal a move to the next level of seeking mediation with the state Public Employment Relations Board.

PBA President Patrolman Mark Kearns said Thursday there was a reason his union hasn’t and won’t be filing for a PERB-appointed mediator. He wants to resume contract talks with incoming City Manager John M. Pinkerton. He arrives for work on Oct. 15.

Mr. Kearns said that PBA’s decision to wait on Mr. Pinkerton to negotiate for the city was no knock on Mr. Cosmo’s abilities or professionalism.

“No disrespect to Phil,” Mr. Kearns said. “He’s done everything he can. He’s a man wearing two hats.”

Mr. Cosmo, who is also city comptroller and is currently overseeing the compilation of a proposed 2013 city budget, took no offense.

“It’s OK,” he said. “I have no problem with that.”

The PBA has been working without a contract since its last two-year pact with the city expired Dec. 31.

Another police department union that has also been working without a new contract since last Dec. 31 is still negotiating with the city.

The Ogdensburg Police Supervisory Unit that represents the department’s two lieutenants and five sergeants also saw a previous two-year contract expire at midnight Dec. 31.

“We’re still talking with the PSU,” Mr. Cosmo said.

Both police unions’ 2010-2011 contacts called for no salary increase in the first year and a 1.5 percent increase in the second year.

Mr. Cosmo declined to elaborate on what disagreements with the PBA led to the impasse.

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