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discipline grievances. Beginning in 2019, the Lodge experienced reluctance on behalf of the City’s law department to settle dis- cipline grievances because of undue pressure from COPA. Once COPA concludes its investigation and makes a recommenda- tion and the superintendent imposes discipline, COPA should not have any say in how a future grievance challenging the dis- ciplinary action may be settled. Indeed, other similar agencies (IPRA or OPS) certainly did not have that authority in the past. It appeared to the Lodge that the final say on whether or not to settle any discipline imposed that an officer sought to challenge rested entirely with COPA.
Therefore, on July 8, 2021, the Lodge returned to the Labor Board and asked that the case be reopened since the arbitrator had not addressed these two specific issues. After six months of an additional investigation, on Dec. 27, 2021, the board finally issued a complaint. Specifically, the complaint, in part, alleges:
On or about April 26, 2019, [the Lodge] discovered that [the City’s] implementation of the Civilian Office of Po- lice Accountability (COPA) Ordinance prohibited officers from reviewing all written materials prior to participating in a Complaint Register (CR) proceedings.
Prior to the implementation of COPA, officers were al- lowed to review written notes and tactical responses (TTRs), and were allotted time to review their body cam- era footage prior to a CR proceeding.
Additionally, the Complaint also alleges:
On or about May 9, 2019, [the City] informed [the Lodge] COPA would participate in the process of settling griev- ances pursuant to the grievance procedure provided in the parties’ CBA.
The practice described [above] is contrary to how [the City] and [the Lodge] settled grievances in the past.
By these acts, the City made unilateral changes to a manda- tory subject of bargaining without first bargaining its decision or the impact of its decision to impasse or agreement with the Lodge, in violation of the act. Not surprisingly, the City filed its formal answer and denied the allegations. Although the City points to various provisions of the contract to justify COPA’s conduct, the Lodge’s position is that the parties’ conduct and past practice that evolved over the years establishes that offi- cers were regularly allowed to review such prior statements and recordings before providing a compelled statement. It is only since the consent decree and in the further implementation of COPA that the City has deviated from that past practice — in violation of its obligations under the State Labor Act.
Currently, the parties are looking at a two-day hearing, to be conducted in front of an administrative law judge (ALJ) on April 28 and April 29, 2022. There, the parties can introduce evidence in support of their respective positions. At the conclusion of the hearing, the parties will submit a post-hearing brief, and the ALJ eventually will issue a recommended decision and order.
The Lodge has successfully challenged the City’s unilateral actions in its attempts to circumvent the contract in the past and will do so again at this hearing. The City, acting through COPA, must learn that it is not above the law; it must follow the terms of what has been negotiated and agreed upon. Any changes must be negotiated with the Lodge prior to implemen- tation. As promised, the Lodge will continue to make sure the City abides with all of its obligations.

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