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Police Association negotiators agree to forego raises

Wednesday, July 1, 2009 by Austin Monitor

Negotiators for city management and the Austin Police Association reached a tentative agreement late Tuesday that would save $4.1 million out of the tight 2010 budget by postponing police raises, and also extend the contract between the police union and the city by a year.


Assistant City Manager Mike McDonald said members of the APA, like the members of the EMS union, will now have to consider and approve the agreement that calls for members to give up a scheduled 2.75 percent pay raise for the coming year. In return, the city would agree to make the optional fourth year of the contract permanent, giving officers a 3 percent raise and an extra 1 percent contribution to their pensions, he said.


Speaking on behalf of City Manager Marc Ott, McDonald told In Fact Daily, “We’re excited. We think this is unprecedented for the police and EMS unions to step forward and assist us in these economic conditions. We realize there is still another step but for them to take, but this first step is something both the city manager and the Council appreciate.”


APA President Sgt. Wayne Vincent told In Fact Daily, “We’re looking forward to bringing it to the membership for a vote and hoping to have the full agreement ratified by July 22.” Vincent said he was pleased “that we created a win-win for the city and the police officers and we can get through the economic challenges of 2010.”


Mayor Lee Leffingwell said, “I certainly want to commend the APA for stepping up to the plate and helping the city out in a difficult budget year. It will certainly make it easier for us to balance the budget and retain essential services, including the cadet class,” which is scheduled to begin in September. The class was not part of the negotiations, according to McDonald and Leffingwell, but Leffingwell has made funding the class a priority in his budget plans.


If EMS union members approve the agreement reached by their leadership last week, McDonald said, the city would save about $650,000. The total savings under both contract changes is estimated at around $4.7 million.


In addition to the fourth year of the contract, police officers who retire will get payment for up to 1700 hours of sick leave, McDonald said, provided they do the city the favor of not taking more than 80 hours in a year or 120 hours in a three-year period. That helps the city, he said, by ensuring that the most experienced officers actually put in their hours when they are nearing retirement instead of taking the time off. It helps the officers by giving them the option of being paid for 400 hours more of sick leave than currently allowed.


In addition, the city has agreed to notify officers when management decides to change a division’s hours—for example, going from days to working night shifts. Under the proposed agreement, “they can set up a meeting with the commander and appeal to the chief ultimately,” McDonald said.


“There have been some concern in the past, and the union is wanting to know when these occur,” said McDonald, a former Assistant Chief with APD.


The change in the contract is subject to approval of the City Council, as well as a majority of union members.

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