April 24, 2019

City PBA gets pact

Three-year agreement retroactive to 2018 reached Friday

Kevin Conlon/contributing photographer

Cortland Police Officer Joseph Peters works the complaint desk Tuesday at the police station in City Hall. The city has reached a three-year contract with the police union retroactive to the beginning of 2018 and runs through 2020.

The Cortland Common Council approved allocating $50,000 for retroactive raises for 2018 and 2019 following police contract settlements last week.

“We signed the final copy this past Friday,” said Police Officer Jeff Fitts, the union president.

The final agreement comes after the department had been working under the terms of the former expired contract since 2015.

Talks surrounding the contract resumed earlier this year following almost a year of arbitration negotiation — the final step of the impasse procedure for police, firefighters, some transit and certain other employees.

An arbitrator was assigned to the case in February 2017 and beyond that, the state Public Employment Relations Board, which handles the affair, has not been involved, Jonathan O’Rourke, executive director of the state Public Employment Relations Board, said in March 2018.

After arbitration, the Cortland City Police Department had received retroactive pay for the past two years — a 2.1 percent raise was given to officers of the department for the 2016 and 2017 work year.

Council members voted unanimously Tuesday night to approve the retroactive pay, which was part of a larger resolution. Alderman Thomas Michales (R- 8th Ward) was absent.

Fitts said the new contract covers 2018, 2019 and 2020. Within the new contract agreement, union members will receive annual raises of 2% — double the increase from the former contract.

The department has 42 union members, said Lt. David Guerrera.

Other than that, things stayed relatively the same, including health care, Fitts said. “We didn’t get anything really new added,” he said.

The three-year contract approved in November 2012 gave police a 1 percent raise each year. Police agreed to pay 16 percent of their health-care premiums and to move insurance coverage to the Tompkins County Health Care Consortium to save money. It reduced the number of unused sick days an employee needed to qualify for lifetime health insurance to 180 from 230, with the city paying half that premium.

City Attorney Richard VanDonsel said everyone worked diligently to get to the finalized contract.

The contract will stay in affect for the next 18 months. VanDonsel expects negotiations surrounding another contract after 2020 to begin next year.

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