By Karen Hutchinson-Talaski

Staff writer

UMATILLA — The city of Umatilla and the union representing the police department are at odds over what comes down to two different opinions about a single issue — schedules.

Usually in negotiations, problems center around money issues. Those particular issues have been resolved to everyone's satisfaction. What is causing problems is the way officers are scheduled to work.

Umatilla police officers want to be able to have some sort of predictability in their schedules. They cite the fact many take part in the community efforts outside of work such as volunteer firefighting and high school athletics. Being able to have some flexibility in the schedule would help them fulfill their duties both as officers and as community members.

The city feels that the officers want to control the schedule. City Manager Larry Clucas says the officers want to ?bid shifts,' which is not acceptable to the city.

"We have agreed to post the schedule," Clucas said. "Being such a small department, it is difficult to put up anything but a tentative schedule."

The officers, says Service Employees International Union representative Bruce Nobles, just want to be able to plan their lives around work.

"The city has rejected every proposal without a counter proposal," Nobles said. "We have already settled on wages, longevity incentives, health insurance, holidays and residency requirements.

"People can't plan or have a life."

SEIU would like to see changeable shifts and language addressing when shifts are posted.

The city and the union have been in mediation twice since negotiations broke down. The union says the city has declared an impasse; which means no settlement can be reached and an arbitrator would more than likely be hired to resolve their differences.

Clucas says although a settlement has not been reached, the city has not declared an impasse.

"We would still like to mediate on this issue," he said. "The management of the police department is to set the schedule (not officers)."

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