The Spokane Police Guild, which has worked 19 months without a contract, has overwhelmingly approved a four-year deal with pay increases above inflation.
The guild voted 180 to 30 in favor of the contract late last week, Spokane’s Chief Operating Officer John Pilcher confirmed Monday.
“It was a challenging negotiation,” Pilcher said. “It took a lot of back-and-forth and, I think, a lot of give-and-take.”
Attempts made to reach guild officials late Monday afternoon and evening were unsuccessful.
If the Spokane City Council signs off on the deal, salaries will increase retroactively, dating to the beginning of 2006. Union members would get checks for the missed pay, reflecting raises that would have occurred every six months: 2.7 percent in January 2006, 1 percent in July 2006, 4 percent in January 2007 and 1 percent last month.
Next year and in 2009, pay would increase by the same rate as inflation in January and by 1 percent in July. The increases based on inflation could not be lower than 2 percent or higher than 4 percent.
Chief Financial Officer Gavin Cooley said back payments will cost the city about $1.25 million, which the city has saved in anticipation of a deal. An analysis showing how much the changes would cost taxpayers was unavailable Monday.
The contract also includes changes in medical benefits.
Under their old contract, guild members paid no part of their medical premiums and 10 percent of their dependents’ costs. The new deal would require members to pay 6 percent of premiums for themselves and dependents.
Despite lowering the price for those paying for dependent care, the city expects to more than make up those costs by requiring members to pay a portion of their own premiums, Mayor Dennis Hession said.
“We have everybody sharing in that expense,” he said.
Co-pays for prescriptions would increase from $5 to $10 for generic drugs and from $8 to $20 or $30 for brand-name drugs, depending on the medical plan members choose.
The new deal also would increase the number of hours of unused sick leave officers would be compensated for upon their retirements, Pilcher said. If approved, guild members would be able to collect 40 percent of their pay for up to 960 hours.
The guild also agreed to begin negotiations for a new police oversight system. In April, Hession announced his support to create an independent ombudsman to examine police conduct. Hession’s opponents in the mayoral election also support an oversight system.
In May, the guild gave Hession a vote of no confidence. Recently it joined with two other city unions to advertise support for mayoral hopefuls City Councilman Al French and Councilwoman Mary Verner in their bids to unseat Hession.
Hession has attributed union actions against him to his contract negotiations.
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