The Texas Observer — How the Expiration of Austin’s Police Union Contract Could be a Rare Opportunity for Reform
November 29, 2017
November 29, 2017
It was an honor and a privilege to be invited to represent Texas and US law enforcement at the 8th annual Wall to Wall motorcycle ride to raise funds for the Police Legacy. Police officers from every state and territory ride motorcycles from their local police memorial wall to the National Police Memorial at Canberra. Thanks to Mark Burgess, Executive Director of the Police Federation of Australia, NSW Police Sergeant Paul Bousfield who oversees the Police Legacy, and NSW Assistant Police Commissioner Michael Corboy.
KXAN.com August 8, 2017 Groups look to APD contract negotiations for improved police transparency
After 18 months of bargaining the City of Fort Worth and the Fort Worth POA reached an agreement on a new 4-year contract. The current contract expired on September 30, 2016 and the parties continued to negotiate during the one year evergreen period. The new contract will expire on September 30, 2020. FWPOA President Rick Van Houten and myself as chief negotiator lead the association team and Assistant City Manager Valerie Washington and San Antonio management attorney lead the city team. The membership ratified with contract with a 92% vote and the City Council vote was unanimous.
The highlights are effective June 1, 2017 a one time signing bonus of $1,182.39 per officer regardless of rank and a 2.2% across the board wage increase; effective October 1, 2017 a 2% across the board wage increase; effective October 1, 2018 a 3.1% across the board wage increase; and October 1, 2019 a 3.1% across the board wage increase. In previous contracts officer could be paid for Certificate Pay or Education pay, at the highest pay but not both. The maximum pay was $1,400 pr year. In the new contract pay for certificate and education were increased and an officer can get the highest pay in each category for a maximum pay of $6,480. Each officer who completes and passes an annual physical fitness exam will receive $1,000.
Substantial changes were made to the Modified Hiring language to allow FWPD to recruit and pay officers with prior experience to join their department. New protections for officers under investigation and due process rights were added. Chief Joel Fitzpatrick currently has 10 appointed positions for Assistant and Deputy Chiefs, and now the chief can appoint up to six commanders. All appointed positions are from FWPD and the city agreed to not reduce the number of officers in lower ranks to make the appointments.
I had the opportunity to act as the Chief Negotiator for the second time for the McKinney Police Association which has about 225 officers in the bargaining unit. In 2015 the Association and the City settled on a two-year that would expire on September 30, 2017. The parties wanted a longer term agreement this round and were able to mutually agree on a new 4-year contract. Due to the competitive police labor market in the DFW area, the City had been paying 50% of the median of seven suburban departments that are some of the highest paid in the state. In the 2015-2016 contract the City agreed to pay 50% plus 1.5% using market data in April and paying the new raises on October 1st. This formula still left MPD below market if comparable agencies received greater than 1.5% on October 1st. The new contract provides for a second market study in January and paid in February so that MPD receives a true 50% market median. The parties also agreed to lessen the time needed to declare one’s retirement and receive a maximum sick leave accrual payout; officers will receive a new personal day; the grievance procedure was simplified; officers will contribute one hour of vacation leave to a new Association Business Leave Pool for use by MPA officials; and a new force reduction and reinstatement clause in the event of rank reductions or layoffs. Ninety-nine percent of the members voting approved the new contract.
I was privileged to be a panelist at the Murphy Institute of CUNY conference “Confronting the Tragedy: Law Enforcement, Unionism and Communities of Color.” The moderator was Professor Kafui Attoh (The Murphy Institute), Derek Willingham (Labor Relations Specialist at AFGE), Rebecca Neusteter (Director of Policing at Vera Institute of Justice) and Tim Robbins (Journalist & professor at CUNY).
Randle Meadows (retired Arlington PD), director of community outreach for Murphy Nasica, and I speaking at the Police Union Executive Leadership conference at Harvard Law School on future trends in policing. The 19th annual conference brings together the largest police unions in the US and Canada.
The Upstate New York PBA held its annual conference at the Seneca Resort and Casino at Niagara Falls, NY on April 10-11, 2017. I was invited to speak to the delegates about future trends in policing and what police unions need to be doing to survive the changes ahead.
- Washington City Paper (January 10, 2017)
Chaos Reigns Within D.C.’s Police Union
Chief negotiator for the unions Ron DeLord and Dallas City Manager A.C. Gonzalez after the Dallas Meet and Confer Team and the City reached a tentative agreement on a new 3-year contract. The bargaining unit covers 5,000 police and fire who are represented by 4 police groups and 3 fire groups. The employees will receive a 25% raise if they still have steps left and 6% if topped out plus increases to certificate pay. The bargaining unit and city ratified the agreement.
Contract negotiations for San Antonio police were difficult and confrontational, but in the end the parties reached a new 5-year contract after 2-1/2 years. I was hired as the chief negotiator for the police association shortly after negotiations started in February 2014. The city had hired three outside management lawyers who came to play hardball. Negotiations went back-and-forth with no progress. SAPOA hired a media & political consultant to get its message out to the public and elected officials. During negotiations the mayor resigned to take a position in the Obama administration. The appointed mayor defeated a sitting state senator for mayor in a hotly contested municipal election. The Chamber of Commerce and various media outlets bombarded the police for not taking the city’s concessionary proposals. The city’s main bone of contention was that officers did not pay a premium for their dependents. The city’s legal team sued after the police and fire contracts went into evergreen contending the 10-year evergreen was unconstitutional, but the police and fire associations won in state district court. The city appealed. The judge ordered mediation between SAPOA and the City. The parties reach a settlement agreement which was taken to a vote of the officers. A new contract was ratified by 72%-29%. The city council ratified the contract shortly thereafter.
The officers did not receive any wage increase but retained premium free dependent health insurance for budgets commencing October 1, 2014 and October 1, 2015. The five-year contract provided for a 3% lump sum bonus effective October 1, 2016; 3% effective October 1, 2017; 3% effective October 1, 2018; 3% effective October 1, 2019; 2% effective October 1, 2020 and 3% effective April 1, 2021. The new health insurance will have the option of a no cost high deductible consumer driven health plan and a city contribution of $1,500 to an officer’s health savings account. Officer may chose a PPO health plan with low cost premiums for dependents. Officers can switch between the plans each year.
Corpus Christi deputy city manager and Corpus Christi POA President Scott Leeton shake hands on a proposed new four year contract. Ron DeLord served as the chief negotiator for the Association.
I was honored to act as the chief negotiator for the Laredo Police Officers Association. After months of negotiations officers voted to ratify a new 4-year contract. The officers will receive a 3% raise October 1, 2016; 4% raise October 1, 2017; 2.5% raise October 1, 2018 and 2.5% raise October 1, 2019. LPD officers have one the best retiree health plans in the state. The city provides all officers health insurance at no costs while the officers are active and into retirement, including medicare supplement. Officers pay 50% of the costs for their dependents. Officers who work 20 years at LPD can purchase dependent health insurance and receive a subsidy from the Police Retiree Dependent Fund that on average covers 70% or more of the costs. The PRDF is funded by officers paying $25 per pay period during their careers. In the new contract officers will increase their contributions to the PRDF to $37.00 per pay period and add fifty cents each additional year. The bargaining unit covers about 480 officers.
The Cedar Park Professional Firefighters Association voted 39-9 to ratify a new one-year memorandum of understanding with the City of Cedar Park. The agreement provides for a 1.75% across-the-board increase. Firefighters will also get step increases. The one-year extension came about because the City refused to agree to any of the Association’s substantive proposals. As such the Association refused to agree to any City proposals. The parties will resume negotiations on a new contract in March 2016.