Scranton’s Mayor & Police Union Re-Negotiate Contract

After more than a decade of labor battles in the city of Scranton there is an agreement between city hall and the police union.

Both sides have successfully re-negotiated a new contract.

For police officers, it will bring raises but also some concessions.

Mayor Bill Courtright said when elected that one of his main goals was to work with the city’s unions in order to save money.

The police union was first.

The union took the unprecedented move of reopening their contract three years early, even though they weren’t required to, because they say they know Scranton’s financial situation.

“I think we both faired out very well,” Mayor Bill Courtright said.

Mayor Courtright believes Scranton will save between $750,000 and $1 million a year based on the new contract agreement that has been worked out.

The negotiations took months.

“They came forward in a very positive way,” city labor counsel Ned Abrahamsen said.

For the officers, they say the new deal brings them stability because the contract will last through 2021. They will also get pay raises every year.

For the city, police officers will boost their pension contributions from the current 3.5% to 6% over the next few years.

The union will also allow staffing changes to cut about $300,000 in overtime.

“A lot of this is restructuring the department to make the department more effective and more efficient,” Chief Carl Graziano said.

For city residents, the biggest change may come in the form of a new “Civilian Parking Enforcement” unit.

The mayor says the union will allow two current clerks to have their jobs changed to address parking issues in neighborhoods.

“This is going to be a dedicated, full time, two positions that are dedicated for proactive enforcement of parking issues throughout the city on a full-time, consistent basis,” Chief Graziano said.

The city expects to raise $375,000 a year through tickets from parkers who violate permit areas, park near hydrants or park on the wrong side of the street.

“You don’t put permit parking in the neighborhoods and just ignore it and in some instances people are just ignoring it and getting away with it and we’re going to put a stop to that,” Mayor Courtright said.

The head of the Scranton police union says they decided to re-negotiate their contract three years early because they’re taxpayers too and know the financial situation the city is in.

“It passed overwhelmingly. I think the members, they weren’t happy with it but they know we had to make concessions and that’s what we do,” union president Paul Helring said.

The proposed union changes must be approved by city council before they take effect.

One thing that is not included is any healthcare savings. Officials say they are studying that.

The mayor hopes to re-negotiate other union contracts now, including the firefighters, DPW and clerical union contracts in Scranton.