The officers of the Chesterton Police Department have voted to unionize,
under the aegis of Teamsters Local 142.
After the Town Council’s meeting on Monday, Local 142 attorney Paul
Berkowitz told the Chesterton Tribune that the vote for unionization
In a letter to the council, Local 142 Secretary-Treasurer Richard Knipp
praised “the council, the Clerk-Treasurer’s Office, and everyone else
involved in the petition and election process for their professional and
unbiased handling of our petition and the conducting of the Sept. 18
Town Attorney Chuck Lukmann has previously said that a unionized Police
Department will look a lot like the already unionized Fire Department. Thus
members of International Association of Fire Fighters (IAFF) Local 4600 is
the exclusive recognized representative of Chesterton firefighters, who may
conduct union meetings at the station, post notices on the bulletin board at
the station, hold elections at the station, and have their dues deducted
from their paycheck and remitted by the town to the IAFF.
Under the so-called “Meet and Confer” law in Indiana Code, which governs the
relationship between a municipality and unionized public safety employees,
the town is obligated to meet with the CPD officers’ exclusive recognized
representative when it receives notice from Local 142.
Local 142 is not, however, the CPD officers’ collective bargaining
representative, and indeed the town is not obligated to negotiate any labor
agreement at all with the officers, which does not mirror either the wages
paid to other municipal employees or their terms of employment.
The town also maintains under “Meet and Confer”--IC 36-8-22--all rights
which are ordinarily vested in and exercised by employers: the right to
hire, promote, suspend, and discharge, and the right to “maintain the
efficiency of governmental operations.”
One other provision of “Meet and Confer”: it forbids public safety employees
from engaging in work stoppages and strikes.
IAFF Local 4600 was recognized by the town several years ago. At the time
Lukmann noted that its membership understood clearly, going into the
process, “that the Town of Chesterton can’t bind itself to future financial
obligations and can’t treat different municipal employees differently.”
Earlier in the evening, at its regular monthly meeting, the Redevelopment
Commission voted 5-0 to approve the following claims: $353,218.81 from Walsh
& Kelly Inc.; $22,426.65 from Traffic Control Specialists; $5,602.55 from
Harris Welsh & Lukmann; $7,405 from DLZ; $234 from Ellis Electric Inc.; and
$240 from Ozinga Ready Mix Concrete.