Two Boston Police Unions Approve Labor Contracts Worth About 13.5%

BOSTON, MA &#8211 Two Boston police unions have ratified labor deals that will cost taxpayers an estimated $34 million for a six-year period that includes some retroactive years, city and union officials said Thursday night.

Mayor Martin J. Walsh’s administration negotiated the deals with unions representing superior detectives and superior officers, at estimated costs over the six-year period of $12.1 million and $21.9 million, respectively. It was not immediately clear Thursday night why the amounts differed, though the detectives union has fewer members than the superior officers’ group.

The contracts next go to the City Council for approval and then to the mayor for his signature.

“We are pleased to have reached agreements with these two unions, and to have avoided a potentially lengthy and contentious arbitration process at greater cost to the taxpayers,” said Kate Norton, a spokeswoman for Walsh.

While details of the pacts and negotiations were limited Thursday night, the contract for the Boston Police Superior Officers Federation includes a 9 percent base salary raise over three years, beginning Oct. 1, 2013, as well as retroactive hikes for when they worked under an expired contract.

Details on the superior detectives union contract were not available late Thursday night.

Jack Kervin — president of the Superior Officers Federation, whose deal carries a $21.9 million price tag — credited the Walsh administration with negotiating fairly, eliminating the need for arbitration for his roughly 240 members.

“My membership is very appreciative of that fact,” Kervin said. His union approved the contract by a 183-to-2 vote.

Walsh is a former labor leader with strong ties to unions, which supported him heavily in the 2013 mayoral election.

The new deals for the two unions were reached about four months after the council approved a controversial arbitration award for the Police Department’s largest union, the Boston Police Patrolmen’s Association.

An arbitration panel had ruled in September that members of the patrolmen’s union, which has more than 1,400 members, were entitled to a 25.4 percent raise over six years in a package projected to cost taxpayers $87 million.

In December, councilors approved the award, much to the chagrin of Walsh’s predecessor, Mayor Thomas M. Menino, who said the move would imperil future negotiations with public safety unions. Menino felt the approval of the award would give unions an incentive to go before arbitrators who “always give them more.”

Councilor Mark Ciommo, who chairs the Budget Committee, declined to comment in detail on the new contracts Thursday night, since it was early in the review process.

But, like Kervin, he was pleased that the unions avoided arbitration.

“If the administration and the bargaining units can come to an agreement, that is encouraging,” Ciommo said.

His comments were echoed by Councilor Timothy McCarthy.

“It’s nice to see this settled at the table as opposed to arbitration,” McCarthy wrote in an e-mail. “I know that Mayor Walsh has left room in the budget to handle the upcoming contract negotiations, [and] I am confident in his ability to lead Boston forward and look forward to the budget cycle.”

Other councilors could not be reached for comment.

Under terms of the pact with the superior officers, the first yearly 3 percent increase would be retroactive to Oct. 1, 2013, followed by identical increases that would take effect in October 2014 and 2015.

In addition, the members would receive retroactive increases of 2.5 percent for fiscal 2011, as well as 1 percent each for fiscal 2012 and 2013. The union’s prior contract had expired during that time.

“This is the end of a five-year process,” Kervin said.

From The Boston Globe

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