Idaho Falls City Council votes against recognizing police union

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IDAHO FALLS — The City Council has rejected the police department’s request for collective bargaining rights.

During its Thursday meeting, the council voted four to two to deny the Idaho Falls Fraternal Order of Police the ability to represent the police department in collective bargaining.

“We are incredibly disappointed,” FOP President Kyle Christopherson tells EastIdahoNews.com. “We feel like we have support from the community.”

Council members Thomas Hally, Barabara Ehardt, Ed Marohn and David Smith voted against Fraternal Order of Police representing the department. John Radford and Michelle Ziel-Dingman voted for it.

Hally said during the meeting it is more important for the department to get a new building than have collective bargaining rights.

“Having looked at all the data — I don’t want anything to topple having that new building,” Hally said. “I think that new building is the thing that is needed the most.”

Ziel-Dingman voted in favor of the Fraternal Order of Police despite saying she agreed with Hally. She said one of the difficulties within the department is the turnover of police chiefs and the policy changes and instability that come with that.

She mentioned that other first responders don’t have that same issue because of their own collective bargaining units.

“We’re very fortunate to have a police chief who’s listening to his department’s employees,” Ziel-Dingman said. “But the flow of communication about changes to wages, benefits and policies that can affect these employees can change at any time without a union.”

Christopherson says that stability, equity and clear and established lines of communication are the desires of the FOP. He says the union will begin talks about moving forward when the new City Council is installed next month.

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