Leaders of the University’s police union said they will give a lukewarm assessment of the proposed contract they negotiated last week when they discuss details of the settlement with union members today.
The negotiating team for the Yale Police Benevolent Association — which represents 55 officers and detectives — decided it will not make a recommendation about whether union members should vote for or against the tentative agreement, YPBA Chief Steward Christopher Morganti said. The decision reflects mixed feelings about the quality of the settlement, he said.
“We want to let the membership have a say without us saying too much,” Morganti said.
University and YPBA officials reached a tentative agreement last week, after a marathon negotiating session at City Hall. Campus police have been renewing their contract on a monthly basis since it expired 26 months ago.
Older officers — who comprise most of the members of the negotiating team — will likely support the settlement, which includes a generous pension package, Morganti said. But younger officers may be less pleased, he said, and it is unclear if the contract will be approved when it is put to a vote Monday.
University Deputy Secretary Martha Highsmith — who participated in bargaining for Yale — said she believes the contract is a good one and hopes campus police officers will approve it.
YPBA chief negotiator John Grottole said union leaders have qualms with the contract’s provisions for overtime, long-term disability, officer discipline, and longevity and shift-differential pay.
The procedures for disciplining officers was a stumbling block throughout negotiations. Yale eventually agreed that after incidents where deadly force is used, officers will be allowed to consult with lawyers before making statements. But the University refused to negotiate on most discipline issues, Grottole said.
“They played hardball on that,” he said.
During negotiations, Grottole said union leaders were unable to secure either longevity pay — a bonus for officers who have worked more than five years — or a shift deferential — an hourly bonus for police working shifts in off hours.
In the area of overtime, YPBA members wanted language specifying the ratio of officers to supervisors allowed during overtime. Yale agreed to include some provisions regulating the overtime ratio, but Grottole said the language in the settlement is too vague.
“They didn’t want to have an overtime ratio because they thought it would tie the chief’s hands,” Grottole said.
The fourth problem with the proposed contract is its long-term disability provisions, Grottole said. Yale refused to increase the disability earnings cap — the percent of previous earnings a permanently disabled officer can make in another job while still collecting disability pay, Grottole said. The YPBA had wanted an 100 percent earnings cap for officers injured while working, with no cap for officers injured in the line of duty. In the new agreement, as in the previous contract, disabled officers have an 80 percent cap, with an 100 percent cap if they are injured in the line of duty.
The new long-term disability plan also includes no provisions for retired Yale police officer Eric Stolzman, Grottole said. Stolzman, 51, was forced to retire after suffering chest pains on the job 10 years ago. Since then, he has had four angioplasties, and YPBA negotiators had pushed for Yale to increase his medical benefits to the levels agreed to in the previous contract, which was signed in 1998.
Yale refused to discuss Stolzman at the bargaining table, Grottole said, and union organizers were forced to drop the issue.
Stolzman — who said he is worried he will be unable to pay his medical bills — expressed frustration with the proposed contract.
“I really needed this,” Stolzman said. “I don’t think it really would have financially hurt the University to have included me.”
The YPBA negotiating team made the decision to take a neutral position on the contract at a meeting Saturday. The team will hold meetings today and Friday to discuss the strengths and weaknesses of the tentative agreement with union members, Morganti said.