Police union, city tentatively agree to pay raises
BY BRIAN BARBER World Staff Writer
Thursday, November 01, 2012
11/01/12 at 7:32 AM
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Tulsa’s City Council.
Tulsa's police union has reached a tentative agreement with city leaders for 3 percent raises for officers retroactive to July 1, with another 1 percent pay bump coming in January, officials said.
Meanwhile, the firefighters union does not have a deal and is expecting to go to arbitration, while the labor and trades union is frustrated over its offer of a 2 percent one-time stipend.
"It's a slap in the face," said Michael Rider, American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees Local 1180. "Most of our workers could get more money selling plasma."
All of the unions have been operating under their old contracts since the start of the fiscal year in July.
Tulsa Fraternal Order of Police Lodge 93 President Phil Evans told the Tulsa World his union's agreement will be presented to members starting this week. City Manager Jim Twombly also confirmed the deal.
"Our constitution bylaws allow the president and the chairman of the negotiations committee to sign off on anything, but that's not the way I've been running the lodge for the past four years," Evans said. "Whenever you do that, there's always the chance for someone to be unhappy."
So in early November, there will be a membership vote, Evans said.
"I don't see it not passing," he said. "It's a good deal for us, and it's a good deal for the city. I'm certainly supporting it."
The lodge represents Tulsa's 782 sworn officers, including the 40 rookies now in the academy who are due to graduate in December.
Evans said the negotiating team continues pushing to get pay for the city's officers to market level, but that would have taken a raise of about 13 percent.
"We are very slowly making some ground," he said.
Tulsa Firefighters Local 176 President Chad Miller said his union is expecting to go to arbitration with the city, having come to an impasse in their talks.
Miller previously told the Tulsa World the union was seeking a 3.5 percent across-the-board increase plus a stipend for EMTs and first responders. He declined to comment further about the details this week.
"We'll continue meeting to try to come to an agreement, but it looks like arbitration is what's next," he said.
The union, which represents Tulsa's 678 firefighters, has the power of binding arbitration. A third-party arbitrator would decide what's fair, and the only way city leaders could avoid fulfilling it would be to send it to a public vote.
The administration still hopes to avert arbitration with the firefighters, Twombly said.
"I feel like we're close enough that we can do that if we keep meeting and discussing," he said, declining to give details. "I'd say there's optimism there that we'll still come to an agreement."
AFSCME Local 1180 doesn't have the right to binding arbitration.
The repeal of the Oklahoma Municipal Employees Collective Bargaining Act last year means state law doesn't require the city to recognize non-sworn unions, even though a local ordinance does.
The 2 percent one-time stipends, not raises, offered to the nearly-2,000-member union is what the administration is also planning for non-union workers, Rider said.
"Honestly, we're really nowhere near a deal," he said, adding he would like to see a 6 percent pay raise. "We can't get any of the decision-makers at the table. It's very frustrating."
Twombly said there's "a different twist involved with the non-sworn employees."
An independent study is going to be done soon on the classification and compensation of city workers.
"There's going to be changes to a number of positions in terms of pay grades and job descriptions," he said, adding that it will be accompanied by a market salary analysis. "The current system needs work, and if we were going in and doing across-the-board increases, it would be taking something that's already imperfect and making it even more so."
By offering one-time stipends, Twombly said, it will "hold the city harmless at this point in time."
The study should be done before next fiscal year so appropriate salary decisions can be made then, he said.
AFSCME is often treated as the stepchild of the city's unions, Rider said, compared to police and fire.
Police officers and firefighters get regular satisfactory performance pay increases, as long as they are not topped out in their classifications, he said, while non-sworn employees sometimes do and sometimes don't.
"That's part of the (6 percent) increase that we have on the table," he said. "There's a huge level of frustration in the workforce right now."
What would the raise mean for a rookie officer?
Current salary: $43,744.26
With 3 percent retroactive to July: $45,056.59
With an extra 1 percent in January: $45,507.16
The total percent increase is 4.03 percent.
Original Print Headline: Police union, city agree to officer raises
Brian Barber 918-581-8322
City Manager Jim Twombly (left) and Tulsa Fraternal Order of Police Lodge 93 President Phil Evans: Evans said the agreement will be presented to the union starting this week. Twombly also confirmed the deal