The Board of Aldermen’s Finance Committee unanimously approved a new four-year contract for New Haven police officers Wednesday. The contract, which must still be passed by the full board, still awaits approval by the union.
The contract provides a 3 percent pay raise over four years and includes a provision that requires employees to make increased contributions to pensions and health insurance.
“We gained a fair package that allowed us to make the department more efficient and gave the union a fair cost of living increase,” said Emmet Hibson Jr., director of labor relations for the city.
The contract will cost the city $9.1 million over four years, the bulk of that figure consisting of the salary increase. Hibson said that though this may appear to be a large sum, it is not too high considering that the city’s annual salary budget for the police department is $26 million.
Concessions made to the police union include a pension change that extends the benefits officers can get for unused sick days at retirement. The retirement plan will give officers a 50 percent pension after 20 years of service, plus an additional 3 percent for each additional year up to a maximum of 80 percent. Officers would be able to trade in accrued sick days to add up to five years to their service, while they currently get a maximum of four. Officers with more than 30 years of service would also be able to get an extra 3 percent above the 80 percent maximum.
Other provisions in the contract include an increase in allowances for clothing for detectives and language that gives the police chief increased disciplinary freedom.
City officials said they were satisfied with the contract, though they felt that neither side was a clear winner in the negotiations.
“Everybody’s a little bit happy and a little bit unhappy, and that’s generally the sign of a good contract,” said Jennifer Pugh, acting chief administrator for the city. “I think it has elements in it that the city wanted, most noticeably making it a four-year contract rather than a shorter term. Also the medical benefits provide for more cost sharing, which is what we’ve been doing with all the bargaining units recently.”
The city only partially addressed one of its goals in the contract, which was to encourage employees to continue working for the department for at least 30 years through pension incentives, Hibson said. The city did not win any concessions from the union on the sick day policy, which Hibson said the city would like to see changed to eliminate sick day accrual.
Police union leaders could not be reached for comment Wednesday.
Ward 1 Alderman Ben Healey ’04 said he thought the contract seemed relatively fair to both sides.
“I think in terms of discipline we were able to achieve some of the goals that the police chief had,” said Healey, who represents most of the Yale campus. “The union got the wage increases that they were looking for, which I think are in line with what the other unions are getting. The fact they got unanimous support is a good sign.”