Officers in the Milford Police Department recently switched unions, trading the Fraternal Order of Police Lodge 18 for the International Brotherhood of Teamsters Local 326, with just a few months before their three-year labor contract with the city is set to expire.

Officers in the Milford Police Department recently switched unions with just a few months before their three-year labor contract with the city is set to expire.

The officers, all of whom hold ranks between patrol officer and sergeant, traded in Fraternal Order of Police Lodge 18 for the International Brotherhood of Teamsters Local 326 in mid-February, although Milford Police Department Union Shop Steward Tim Webb has declined to say why the change was made.

“Due to current contract negotiations, union matters are a sensitive issue,” Webb said.

It is unclear exactly how many officers will be represented by the Teamsters or what benefits they will receive from representation by the new collective bargaining unit.

“We are pleased to welcome these brave men and women into Local 326,” said Joe Smith, president of the local Teamsters chapter. “Law enforcement personnel put their lives on the line every day in order to protect our community. We will work hard to represent them.”

The Teamsters currently represent 1.3 million workers nationwide, including sanitation workers, UPS drivers, car haulers, construction workers, school bus drivers, delivery drivers and factory workers.

Smith said the union also represents a variety of law enforcement agencies across the county, but only two in Delaware, including Rehoboth Beach Police Department and the Delaware Division of Alcohol and Tobacco Enforcement.

Milford police officers had been represented the FOP, the largest police labor organization in Delaware, since the late 1980s, according to FOP Delaware State Lodge President Frank Calhoun.

Calhoun said the FOP had reached out to officers in the Milford Police Department on several occasions in the hopes of convincing them to remain with union.

But, he said, he understands that officers in smaller police departments might struggle with the rules that require members to actively play a part in the union.

“A lot of the agencies in the southern part of the state, they’re a lot smaller, so they’re not quite as organized as others,” he explained. “You have to be more active with the organization to have it be successful within the police department or agency.”

City Councilman Doug Morrow, who chairs the Milford City Council’s police committee, said he does not expect any major difference as a result of the officers changing unions.

“As long as both sides do the negotiating in good faith, we’ll be in good shape,” he said. “I haven’t heard of any issues, more or less, from the Teamsters or from the [FOP]. We’ll go in with an open mind and hash things out like we always have.”

The police union’s current collective bargaining agreement with the city is set to expire June 30.

Negotiations on a new contract are underway, according to city officials.

For fiscal year 2014, the total police budget for Milford’s department was close to $4.4 million, with more than $3 million of that total allocated for personnel costs.

Scott Goss contributed to this story.