By Chris Durden & Pilar Pedraza
KWCH 12 Eyewitness News
7:19 PM CST, November 13, 2012
The Derby City Council decided to wait two more weeks to make a decision on the controversial issue of whether to continue negotiations with labor unions. The decision came after more than 100 people spoke at a public forum during a city council meeting Tuesday night.
The issue was first raised by the city manager last month. She is advising the council to no longer negotiate with unions, which it has done since 1987.
Her concern is that union contract negotiations sometimes drag on beyond the point when state law requires the city council to have passed the next year's budget. That happened this year.
The Fraternal Order of Police still has not reached an agreement on a new contract with the city, even though their current contract runs out at the end of the year and the city had to pass its 2013 budget last summer.
The police union is currently the only union the city negotiates with. Although the firefighters are in the process of organizing into a union.
Instead of negotiating with unions, the city manager would like to see employee advisory boards instituted that would be able to provide input but would have no vote on the final decision of pay and benefits. Police union attorney told the council employees see advisory boards as "puppets of management."
The council chamber was filled to capacity during Tuesday night's public forum, even though only seven speakers addressed the council. All of them spoke in favor of continuing to negotiate with unions.
Most of the speakers were union leadership. In addition, some Derby residents who are also member of the Machinist Union came out in support of the police and firefighter unions.
Many in the audience hoped for a decision Tuesday night but the council decided to table the issue and wait to make a decision at its next meeting in two weeks. Several council members want the extra time to consider what they heard at Tuesday's meeting and to speak more to members of the public.
They also wanted to wait to vote on the issue until all seated members of the council were present. One was absent Tuesday night.
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