Police Approve Contract Granting 21% in Raises
By Del Quentin Wilber
Washington Post Staff Writer
D.C. police officers voted last week to approve a new contract that will give them a 21 percent raise over the next 3 1/2 years.
The officers voted 967 to 770 to approve the deal, which has been under negotiation between union leaders and police officials for two years.
Sgt. Gregory I. Greene, president of the D.C. police labor committee for the Fraternal Order of Police Lodge 1, said the contract gives officers a hefty raise and establishes a committee to review the retirement system.
The contract must still be approved by the D.C. Council and would be good through September 2008. Union officials were particularly happy that some of the raises in the new labor agreement will be retroactive to October 2003, and other pay increases will continue in steps through 2007, union and police officials said.
"The union walked away with the maximum it could receive in negotiations," Greene said. "I am happy about the compensation."
D.C. Police Chief Charles H. Ramsey said in a statement that the agreement "is beneficial to our Department, our members and their families."
Under the contract, a new officer starting this year will make about $42,000, up from $39,000 under the previous labor agreement, union officials said. They said they were also pleased that the contract established two committees to review the retirement system and salary issues. The retirement committee will evaluate a union plan that would reduce the number of years officers must work to get their pension benefits.
Officers are required to work 25 years, but the union would like to reduce that to 20 years of service. Some officers on the department, who were hired under previous contracts, have to work only 20 years to receive their pensions.
The other committee will review how to increase the salaries of officers in the middle years of their service and those patrolling the streets in Patrol Service Areas.
Police officials said the contract will also increase pay for officers with special skills, including those who deal with hazardous materials. And the department has agreed to adjust its contributions to dental and health plans when the consumer price index rises, officials said.
Clothing allowances for plainclothes and uniformed officers will also rise, officials said.
Negotiations had been difficult for both sides. In September, the union declared impasse, which sent talks into mediation. Officers had been working without a contract since the last one expired on Sept. 30, 2003.