Police union continues to push back on city’s proposal to eliminate double-time pay
photo by: Journal-World Illustration
Representatives of the local police officers union are not willing to give up double-time pay for officers and detectives.
As part of contract negotiations with the Lawrence Police Officers Association, the city previously proposed eliminating double-time pay. Under the current contract, if an officer or detective works more than 12 hours in a single day, any hours beyond the 12th hour are paid at double time.
During negotiations Monday afternoon, LPOA Chairman Drew Fennelly said that double time compensates officers for the time and risk they are putting into their jobs. He said receiving double-time pay as opposed to overtime pay is warranted if an emergency or other situation requires an officer to work beyond 12 hours at a time.
“It’s ensuring that officers and detectives will be adequately paid when they have to work extreme shifts,” Fennelly said.
But from the beginning of negotiations, one of the city’s main goals has been ensuring equity among all its employees. The city has proposed that all extra time should therefore be paid at a rate of time and a half instead of double for police department employees under certain circumstances.
Another sticking point between the LPOA and city is to what degree supervisors can have officers adjust their schedules when they accumulate a significant amount of overtime. Officers accumulate overtime whenever they work beyond their daily shifts, not just beyond a 40-hour pay period. The city has proposed that if officers accumulate overtime hours beyond the equivalent of one shift during a 14-day pay period, that the Chief of Police will have the option to alter their work schedule or work cycle, the six-month period where officers have the same patrol assignment, with “reasonable notice.”
Police Chief Gregory Burns Jr. said that if officers are working significant amounts of overtime, he needs to have the ability to reorganize shifts to better meet department needs and manage overtime accumulation.
“I would base it off of need, but any good manager should be managing overtime that the police department uses,” Burns said.
The LPOA is proposing the chief not be able to alter the work cycle in that situation, and Fennelly also expressed concern about the ability to alter schedules. Because officers can get overtime on a day-by-day basis, Fennelly said schedule changes allow officers to have overtime pay “taken away,” should they be asked to take days off to offset overtime.
Negotiations were fruitful in a handful of sections of the contract, including sections related to compensatory time. Currently, officers can convert their overtime into compensatory time off, paid at a rate of time and a half. The city and LPOA agreed that compensatory time cannot be carried over year-to-year if unused, and instead it will be paid out annually at the end of year.
The city’s employment agreement with the LPOA covers wages, benefits and working conditions for officers and detectives and expires at the end of this year. The next meeting between the city and the LPOA will be 1:30 to 5 p.m. Wednesday at City Hall, 6 E. Sixth St.