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Pay decrease on the table for police employees

By Staff | Mar 19, 2011

Contract negotiations between the city and local police union continued Friday as the two parties attempted to reach a consensus.
After several hours of bargaining, the city ended with a proposal for a 4 percent pay cut for sergeants and officers, along with a 2 percent pension contribution increase. John Hament, the city’s labor attorney, said that is combined with a “nominal pension enhancement.”
The city originally proposed a 6 percent pay cut, followed by 5 percent.
“We’re there in good faith to reach an agreement, and good faith bargaining involves give and take, and that was a concession on our part,” he said.
The union entered Friday’s negotiations with a proposal for a 1 percent pay reduction and a 2 percent pension contribution hike. Kurt Grau, president of the Fraternal Order of Police Lodge 33, said the proposal saves thousands.
The 1 percent cut would have saved an estimated $185,000 annually.
The contribution increase would have provided about $370,280 per year.
The union eventually settled Friday on a position of a 2 percent pay cut, along with a 2 percent pension contribution increase, according to Hament.
“So we’re 2 percent apart,” he said.
Removed from the table during the negotiations has been furlough days, along with an on-duty and off-duty injury provision that the city brought forward. It would have granted right of reinstatement for 12-15 months.
The injury provision was withdrawn because the union rejected it.
The bargaining, which has been ongoing on for several months, at the least, are reopener negotiations and only cover a handful of issues in the contract.
“There are two or three other less critical issues that are still being discussed,” Hament said.
For example, he explained, the union wants the current freeze on pay step increases for officers to be lifted if the officers agreed to the pay cut.
“The city is not agreeing to that,” Hament said.
During the meeting, Grau stressed that it is difficult to convince union members to take a pay cut and give back when officers are being hired.
“It’s tough sell to that if there’s nothing on the horizon for them,” he said.
Hament noted that the city understands pay cuts are painful, but it feels compelled to ask for them due to what the city maintains is a more than $6 million spending deficit.
“On behalf of the city, we’re very appreciative of the movements and concessions from the police units, but we’re not quite there yet,” he said.
There is no deadline for the two parties to reach a consensus, but the contract is due Sept. 30. They will meet again in the next couple of weeks.
“I’m hopeful, very hopeful,” Hament said of reaching an agreement.