ALBUQUERQUE, NM – The Albuquerque police union overwhelmingly rejected a proposed contract that would have partially restored a pay cut imposed by Mayor Richard Berry at the beginning of his first term, sending negotiators back to the table and rebuking the first attempt in several years at ratifying a new contract for police officers.
Of the 568 officers who voted, just 39 of them voted in favor of the new contract, Albuquerque Police Officers Association president Stephanie Lopez said in a news conference Friday morning. The majority of those 39 officers work in the Prisoner Transport Unit, she said.
“Now that the city knows how officers feel and can see the results of this overwhelming vote, we look forward to sitting back down and working through these issues so that we can bring a fair contract to our officers,” Lopez said in a prepared statement.
The proposed contract also would have required officers to give up several hours of vacation time a year to fund the union positions. The so-called “union time” issue has been a sticking point for the mayor and union leadership throughout the negotiations, as the mayor contends that taxpayers should not foot the bill for union activities.
Lopez said that she was surprised at the overwhelmingly negative response to the contract, but not that it failed. She said the union leadership felt that officers needed to at least have a chance to have their voices heard, especially after three years of stalled negotiations and a City Council resolution that aimed to restore an approximately 2.5 percent pay cut imposed by the mayor in 2011.
If approved, the contract would have resulted in a pay raise equivalent to about $1,200 next year, Lopez said.
The 2.5 percent pay cut was in addition to the mayor’s decision not to honor the third year of the contract worked out between the union and his predecessor, ex-mayor Martin Chavez. That contract called for a pay increase of 3.7 percent, but the mayor cited city budgetary concerns in declining to honor the contract.
In September, the state Court of Appeals said that the mayor was wrong to “unilaterally” exclude pay raises from the proposed city budget that year.
Lopez said she looks forward to sitting down with city officials to address what she calls city leaders’ lack of integrity by failing to honor the old contract.
Berry has said that the raises outlined in the contract were always subject to budget appropriations.