At a meeting of rank and file officers on March 30, Brookfield police voted 14-10 to approve a new contract with the village, averting layoffs that were to take effect on April 1.
But the Fraternal Order of Police made it clear in a statement released March 31 that it considers the wage freeze a one-year-only stop gap that won’t be approved next year.
“In light of the fact that contract negotiations will be up again in six short months, we do hope the village gets their financial house in order,” the statement read. “The police department has made it clear that this is a one-time deal and they will not accept a second year of wage freezes, even in the face of future threats of layoffs.”
The vote came following of a six-hour negotiating session between the two sides yesterday with the help of an independent labor mediator. According to Village Manager Riccardo Ginex, the two sides walked away from the table at 7:30 p.m. on March 30.
“At mediation the village continued to use the pending layoffs of the two police officers as their bargaining chip if the police department did not agree to a wage freeze,” according to the union statement. “In the end the police department voted to accept the wage freeze in order to postpone the layoffs.”
The one-year deal, which will end Dec. 31, imposes a wage freeze and step-increase freeze for police officers and sergeants. Three officers who received step raises at the beginning of the year had those increases rescinded starting April 3, Ginex said. The total amount paid to those officers for the step increases in the past three months was $2,500, he added.
The police union also agreed to not increase the amount paid out to veteran officers as a seniority stipend prior to their retirement.
The village agreed to a slight modification in the contract language regarding vacation time. Previously, police received vacation time in years one (two weeks), five (three weeks), 12 (four weeks) and 20 (five weeks). According to the new contract, police will receive four weeks of vacation at year 10. At year 21, they will receive five weeks plus one day. At 25 years, they receive five weeks plus two days.
“This issue for us is that one or two days are not as bad as an extra day for every year,” Ginex said.
Except for the concession on vacation time, the contract is essentially the one the village offered police in January, Ginex said.
Andy Lowry, one of three police officers representing the union in negotiations, said the village bought itself time with the one-year deal, but expressed doubt that the financial condition of the village will differ much going into 2011.
“We don’t see how the village is going to become fiscally sound in the next six months,” Lowry said. “They bought some time for these officers, but come January how are things going to change?”
The contract still needs the approval of the village board, which meets April 12. The layoff notices to the two officers who would have been affected have been extended to April 13, Ginex said.
“When the board agrees, the layoffs will be rescinded,” Ginex said.
The village’s final task will be agreeing to a deal with police dispatchers, who operate under a separate bargaining unit, but who often take their negotiating cues from police officers.
“Hopefully, we’ll be able to wrap it up in a couple of hours,” Ginex said.
The village will start negotiations on new contracts with police officers and firefighters in the fall for the 2011 fiscal year.