December 13, 2009 in City

Deal would trade police raises for extra vacation

By The Spokesman-Review
 

Police in Spokane would get an extra week of vacation in 2010 in lieu of a raise as part of their proposed two-year contract up for consideration by the City Council on Monday.

In return for no wage increase next year, members of the Spokane Police Guild would get an extra 52 hours of vacation in 2010. The group also would get a 4 percent raise in 2011.

The city estimates that the contract would increase the group’s total pay and benefits package an average of 3.5 percent a year over the life of the contract.

Human Resources Director Dave Chandler said the guild voted in favor of the contract earlier this month.

In 2009, guild members received a 4 percent raise in January and 1 percent in July.

The guild was the last city union to reach an agreement aimed at avoiding layoffs. The guild, however, was one of the few bargaining units that had a contract expiring at the end of the year. Therefore, its concessions were part of a new contract as opposed to revisions of an old one.

Without a deal, city officials said the department would lose 22 officers. Because of attrition and a hiring freeze, only two of those lost jobs would have been through layoffs.

If the agreement is ratified by the council, the city likely will hire 10 officers next year to fill the department’s 20 vacancies, but the department still would have 10 fewer positions than were budgeted for in 2009.

City Council President Joe Shogan said he supports the agreement and is grateful the guild was willing to approve it in time to be considered for the city’s 2010 budget.

“It’s got some elements that extend down the road, and that’s what I’m really pleased about,” Shogan said.

While praising the union for working on the deal, City Councilwoman Nancy McLaughlin said she’s concerned about the extra vacation. If one goal of concessions was to keep police on the street, awarding an extra week of vacation may not help, she said.

She added that with the city possibly facing a $10 million deficit in 2011, a 4 percent raise that year may not be realistic.

“The productivity level is going to go down,” McLaughlin said. “That’s a real bummer for the taxpayer.”

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