City will pay more after police arbitration decision

PAWTUCKET – The city will have to pay extra for its police force this year after an arbitrator’s ruling swung the way of the union.

City officials and members of the Pawtucket Fraternal Order of Police Lodge 4 have long been at an impasse on a new contract, and the arbitrator’s decision gives them another year to continue trying to hammer out a long-term deal.

Tony Pires, director of administration for Mayor Donald Grebien, said he’s not sure of the exact net cost to the city of arbitrator Michael Ryan’s ruling, but he said he believes it will exceed $100,000.

“I thought he was thorough and ultimately fair, althought I would have liked him to be 100 percent in our favor, which isn’t ever the case in these interest arbitration cases,” said Pires.

Sides go to an arbitrator when they fail to reach a settlement on a contract.

Mark Boisclair, president of the Pawtucket FOP, did not respond to a request for comment.

Like any decision, it’s hard to say that one side lost and another won, according to Pires, as there were parts of the one-year contract that city officials were happy with and some that police were happy with.

The ruling, which wasn’t immediately available to the press, splits the difference on key items, said Pires. On raises, for instance, officials were looking for roughly 1.5 percent and police were looking for 3 percent. The arbitrator went with about 2.5 percent, he said.

Pires said that more information on the one-year extension through June of next year will be available after attorneys on both sides are done reviewing the award.

“No one gloats” after a short-term decision like this, said Pires. Instead they get ready for the “next round of negotiations” as part of an “ongoing, living, breathing exercise.”