New Aurora police and fire pacts offer quicker path to peak wages

Aurora CO police patch

AURORA | After lengthy negotiations that narrowly avoided arbitration, Aurora’s police and fire unions have new contracts in place.

And the contracts — which cover 2017 and 2018 — are, in a word, complicated.

“They’re both very abnormal,” said Dan Quillen, director of internal services

Quillen said neither deal includes raises next year, and the raises they do include aren’t as simple as an across-the-board pay bump.

For Aurora police, the new contract calls for some pay raises in 2018 and the elimination of some steps on the pay scale next year. Quillen said eliminating that step will mean officers can reach their peak wage sooner than they otherwise could.

Firefighters also won’t see a raise next year, but Quillen said will they see a modest one in 2018.

The big change for the firefighters, he said, is that rather than working an average of 56 hours each week, firefighters will now work a 48-hour week. Shrinking the number of hours firefighters work each week was a major issue for the firefighters’ union Quillen said.

Under the new deal, a starting officer in 2018 will make $53,713 annually, up from $52,403 this year.

A starting firefighter will make $47,203 in 2018, up form $46,620 this year.

The negotiations started in April with the contracts set to expire at the end of the year, but the city and the unions couldn’t hammer out a deal during the initial negotiating window.

Still, officials from the police union, the Aurora Police Association, said that while the negotiations took some time, they weren’t combative.

For the firefighters’ union, the negotiations were more contentious. The sides presented their case to an independent arbitrator in July, but the sides said they had a tentative agreement before the arbitrator ruled.

Before the negotiations started, APA President Sgt. Bob Wesner said the police union was looking for pay raises that bring Aurora more in line with Denver, where officers make more and can reach the top level of pay several years sooner than in Aurora.

Wesner said this week the union was happy with the new deal, and likes that it brings Aurora officers more in line with other local departments.

“We are very pleased with the progress and grateful to city management for working with us,” he said.

Quillen said bringing police officer pay more in line with other departments in the area was important for the city.

“We try to watch that very carefully,” he said.

Today, Aurora police pay ranks eighth out of 16 local departments, he said. In 2018, APD’s pay scale will rank second out of those 16, and Quillen said that estimate takes into account other departments handing out raises as well.

The firefighters’ union, the Aurora Firefighters Protective Association, did not return a request for comment.

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