The Mill Creek City Council unanimously approved a new Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) between the City and the Police Guild at the July 24th city council meeting. The new Collective Bargaining Agreement is retroactive to January 1, 2012 and is in effect until December 31, 2014. Police Guild members have been working without an agreement since the old Collective Bargaining Agreement expired on December 31, 2011.
The negotiated changes are intended to accomplish the following:
- Make the City's compensation package comparable to similar police departments in the area.
- Provide predictability for budget and forecasting purposes.
- Provide additional accountability, in field supervision, and career development for patrol officers.
- Reduce the City's share of increasing health care costs.
When asked for his opinion regarding the new Collective Bargaining Agreement at the city council meeting Acting City Manager, Tom Gathmann, said, “If you’re asking me if I think something better could be negotiated at this point in time, my answer is no.”
City Councilmember Mark Bond voiced his support for the agreement at the city council meeting, “I think this is pretty fair. In this economy, it’s probably a little more than fair. But we’ve put a lot of effort into finding good people, and kudos to the Chief he’s found a bunch of really good people. And so if this helps us retain those good people and keeps them serving us here and not take their training and run off to Seattle then this is a good thing.”
The new Collective Bargaining Agreement will cost the City approximately $11,000 less than the old agreement would have over the three year term of the agreement, but gives police officers a better chance for career development and more incentive to stay with the City of Mill Creek.
The cost of the new Police Guild Collective Bargaining Agreement has already been factored into the ongoing budget discussions and doesn’t affect the projected $1.7 million 2013-2014 budget deficit discussed by the Mill Creek City Council at the May 12, 2012 budget retreat.
The new Collective Bargaining Agreement took almost 13 months of negotiations to finalize. Negotiations between the City and the Police Guild began on June 30, 2011, but became stalled on December 16, 2011 after 10 negotiation meetings.
An independent mediator from the Washington State Public Employment Relations Commission conducted three mediation sessions between the City and the Police Guild from January 2012 to June 1, 2012 at which time a tentative agreement was reached.
The final Collective Bargaining Agreement was approved by Police Guild membership on July 16, 2012 and has the following significant changes from the expired Collective Bargaining Agreement:
- The number of pay steps within the police officer pay range has been reduced from seven to six. (The sergeant pay range stayed the same with three steps.)
- Instead of an annual cost of living change tied to the Consumer Price Index (CPI), there is now a fixed annual increase of 3%. This was applied to 2013 and 2014, not 2012, for which the step compression amounted to a slight increase.
- The vacation accrual rate has been compressed by one year and an additional accrual amount (12 hours per year) was inserted beginning in year 7. Represented employees will receive an increase from 8 hours per month to 10 hours per month beginning in year 5 of their employment, and an accrual increase of 2 hours per month will begin in year 15 of employment.
- The Master Patrol Officer program has been removed and replaced with a Corporal program, which is cost neutral.
- Employee contributions for medical insurance have increased from 7.5% to 10%.