An overwhelming number of Joplin police officers and corporals vote to be represented by a union, with 67 votes for the measure, no votes against. The union will be through Joplin Police Officer’s Association, Fraternal Order of Police, Southwest Missouri Regional Lodge #27.
But the new union comes with limitations.
Joplin City Council members say the city's police deserve to have requests met.
"We're at a time when the citizens are looking for, and expecting, the police officers to treat them with respect. And I think we're at a time when the police officers deserve, and expect, the citizens to treat them with respect," says Councilman Gary Shaw.
More of that respect could come from a new Joplin police union that will negotiate with the city wages, benefits, and other terms and conditions of employment.
"If they think that this is something they need and it helps them, certainly we'll go along with it without any problem," says Shaw.
In an e-mail, City Attorney Peter Edwards says now that Joplin police have voted to unionize, all that's required next is written notice to the city from the new union, and negotiations will begin. But the new union includes limitations that were established by the city. A June city ordinance said two state circuit courts have ordered cities to establish a framework for collecting bargaining; letting cities write the rules of the game, so to speak. So the city ordinance said to avoid conflicts of interest, police supervisors will not be included in the same bargaining unit as the employees they supervise.
It means JPD's new union only consists of officers and corporals.
Edwards says the city's HR director, city manager, finance director, and legal department will negotiate with the new union.
"I know the fire department has a union," says Shaw.
But salary is still a concern with many Joplin firefighters.
"You know, the scripture talks about the more people who are involved with a 'corporate mind,' it helps make better decisions," says Shaw.
Only time will tell how much a new police union makes a difference.
A representative with Joplin's Fraternal Order of Police says it's unknown when this new union will become official and begin negotiating. Efforts are underway by police sergeants to also unionize.
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