NEW HAVEN — The Board of Aldermen unanimously voted this week night to approve the police union contract with the city.
The approval came with one amendment proposed by Alderwoman Andrea Jackson-Brooks, D-4 that the police chief won’t be allowed to increase the salary of new officers without approval from the board, according to the New Haven Independent.
The contract provides a 9 percent general wage raise spread across the 5-year contract. The first 3 percent raise technically began on July 1, 2012; however, there won’t be retroactive pay. Another three percent raise is scheduled to begin on July 1, 2014 and the final one will start on July 1, 2015.
There was discussion during contract negotiations of giving new officers a raise after two years on the job instead of three years, said police union President Louis Cavaliere Jr.
“The city was trying to entice them by giving them a raise quicker,” he said. “It was up in the air and there was no promise made.”
The initial proposal came from city officials as a way of enticing officers to join the department because they wouldn’t have to wait for a raise, Cavaliere said. It appears that won’t be happening.
Department members who are eligible for retirement and do so before July 1, 2014 will pay a maximum of $140 a month for family coverage. Future department members after the current class in the academy will pay the same cost-share as active members pay, along with 50 percent of a spouse premium cost and no coverage for dependents.
Fire union President James Kottage said he predicted the contract would lead to a mass exodus of officers from the department.
The police union and eventually the city fired back. Cavaliere argued that police retained better benefits by negotiating with the city instead of going to arbitration. One of the most attractive benefits retained was a pension plan instead of a defined-contribution plan, such as a 401(k). All current department and academy members will also retain the attractive and competitive 20-year finish line for retirement.
The union’s legal representation concluded that even wealthier towns such as Cheshire, Easton and Greenwich were getting hammered in arbitration.
Fire union officials said their research proved otherwise and that they were willing to go to arbitration in order to retain more benefits.
The city filed a complaint with the state Board of Labor Relations, alleging that the fire union was attempting to interfere with a settlement agreement. The complaint includes a request for a cease-and-desist order.