New Kearny police contract will cut overtime costs and up to 20 positions

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KEARNY — Town officials and the its two police unions have settled on a new contract that establishes a rotating work schedule with longer shifts, but promises to cut overtime costs and eventually eliminate 20 positions in the department.

The four-year pact calls for a 6.5 percent raise this year, no raises in the next two years, and a 1.75 percent pay hike in 2019, according to Fourth Ward Councilwoman Susan McCurrie.

A key component of the deal, which was ratified last week by the Kearny Policemen’s Benevolent Association Local 21 and the Kearny Policemen’s Benevolent Association, Superior Officers Association, establishes a new rotating schedule that calls for the town’s police officers to work 84 hours over two weeks, an increase of four hours every 14 days from the current work schedule.

Town Administrator Michael Martello said that over a two-week span, officers will now work 12-hour shifts of two days on duty with two days off, then three days on duty with two days off, and finally another two days on duty with three days off.

Through attrition, the longer shifts will eventually lead to the reduction of up to one deputy chief, three captains, two lieutenants, two sergeants and 12 police officers, according to McCurrie.

Another provision in the new contract abolishes longevity pay for new hires, Martello added.

Mayor Al Santos said the new work schedule provides for officers to work 2,180 hours a year, a significant increase over the 1,947 they currently work.

“Working the additional 233 hours a year will reduce overtime in the budget, so those overtime savings should make us 2 percent compliant,” said Santos, referring to a state law that limits annual municipal tax hikes to 2 percent.

“I think this agreement is very good.”