Capital Clicks

Police sergeants challenge city over bargaining rights

By: - May 10, 2023 4:46 pm

Urbandale’s police sergeants are challenging a state board's finding that they are ineligible for collective bargaining. (Photo via Canva)

Urbandale’s police sergeants are taking the Iowa Public Employee Relations Board to court, arguing they shouldn’t be excluded from collective bargaining.

The Urbandale Police Sergeants Association filed a petition with IPERB last October, hoping to establish a bargaining unit comprised exclusively of the 10 Urbandale police officers who hold the rank of sergeant.

The City of Urbandale challenged that effort, asserting the sergeants were supervisors or managers and thus excluded from bargaining units under state law.

Police sergeants are typically responsible for assigning overtime, directing the work of officers and detectives they supervise, are heavily involved in scheduling and the management and approval of time-off requests. Sergeants also are allowed to give verbal warnings to officers they supervise and have the authority to suspend an officer when necessary.

An administrative hearing on the matter was held in late January, and on April 7, IPERB sided with the city. “The record demonstrates tangible examples of sergeants having the authority to exercise supervisory duties and responsibilities that are neither temporary or routine,” the board concluded.

The sergeants are now seeking judicial review of that decision and are asking a Polk County judge to reverse the board’s decision. The city has yet to file a response.

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Clark Kauffman
Clark Kauffman

Deputy Editor Clark Kauffman has worked during the past 30 years as both an investigative reporter and editorial writer at two of Iowa’s largest newspapers, the Des Moines Register and the Quad-City Times. He has won numerous state and national awards for reporting and editorial writing.