- Associated Press - Saturday, April 12, 2014

TULSA, Okla. (AP) - Officials with the city of Tulsa and its police union are trading allegations as contract negotiations heat up.

Police leaders have filed a complaint alleging violation of state law against a city official. The city followed Friday with its own complaint against police union officials, The Tulsa World reported (https://bit.ly/1n2B8EQ ).

The allegations involve the fiscal year 2013-14 police contract, which is going to arbitration later this month, and the fiscal year 2014-15 contract negotiations, which recently began.

Clay Ballenger, president of Tulsa Fraternal Order of Police Lodge 93, has accused Tulsa City Manager Jim Twombly of failing to negotiate “in good faith,” according to a complaint filed with the Oklahoma Public Employees Relations Board.

Twombly says the city has filed a similar complaint with the board.

“We believe what he did was refuse to bargain in good faith,” Ballenger said.

Ballenger said FOP officials sat down with city leaders Thursday for a regular meeting to discuss the 2015 contract when Twombly refused to accept a detailed proposal brought by the police.

In contract negotiations, each side brings a proposal of what terms they want to discuss for changes in the contract, Ballenger said.

“The law says, ‘bargain in good faith,’” Ballenger said. “You’re not supposed to try to get each other on a technicality.”

Twombly refuted the allegation, saying he would expect the union to hold the city to the same standards if the situation were reversed.

“I’d hardly call it a technicality when they have not submitted what they were required to submit,” Twombly said. “What they submitted was very vague, and for the most part, we didn’t know what they were proposing.”

The complaints filed with the state employee relations board will now need to be investigated, which could take several months, Ballenger said. Twombly said he expects the complaints to be combined, and then each party will likely argue its side before the board.

The complaints are being handled separately from ongoing negotiations on the 2015 contract and any potential arbitration on that front, Twombly said.

The 2014 contract negotiations continue with the two organizations heading into arbitration April 23. Tulsa also faces negotiations with the fire union, which has an arbitration date set for May 8.

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Information from: Tulsa World, https://www.tulsaworld.com

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