Police union reduces raise request; other extra pay provisions also remain undetermined
photo by: Journal-World Illustration
Representatives of the local police officers union are now asking for a lower raise than they were before, but the union and the city have not yet reached an agreement on raises in their contract negotiations, and many other issues related to officer pay remain unresolved.
Originally, the Lawrence Police Officers Association proposed a 5.5 percent pay increase at all levels for officers and detectives. At a contract negotiations meeting Wednesday between the LPOA and the city, LPOA Chairman Drew Fennelly amended that proposal. The LPOA is now asking for a 3 percent increase.
City officials and LPOA representatives have continued to discuss raises and other compensation at contract negotiation meetings held throughout the week, and another meeting is scheduled for Friday. Those discussions began Tuesday, when the city presented its compensation proposal, which would markedly change the current pay structure.
Instead of proposing an across-the-board pay increase, the city commissioned a salary study of area police departments and used it to determine the market rate for officers’ and detectives’ compensation. The pay levels in the city’s proposal are calculated based on those market rates, and officers would have to rise to the newly created rank of master police officer to reach the top of the pay scale.
Raises are just one of the issues related to officers’ and detectives’ pay, and there are several other elements of the contract that have not yet been decided that will affect the city’s budget. Those provisions include overtime pay, double-time pay, shift-differential pay and longevity pay. A summary of some of those provisions, and what city and union representatives are proposing, is as follows.
First-time homebuyer incentive
•City proposal: In a provision that does not exist in the current contract, the city would provide a one-time lump sum payment of $5,000 for any officer or detective who is a first-time homebuyer and purchases a house in Lawrence for use as a principal residence. The number of these lump sum payments that would be made to officers each year would be subject to the city budget, however.
•LPOA proposal: The LPOA would like the lump sum payment available to all officers or detectives buying homes, not just first-time homebuyers, subject to the city budget.
•Current contract: Officers and detectives become eligible for longevity pay after the fifth year of employment. The pay is a discretionary item, considered annually by the City Commission, that takes the form of a check provided in December. How much longevity pay officers receive is tied to the total number of months they’ve served. The current contract states that officers will receive $4 of longevity pay each year for every month they’ve served.
•City proposal: The city is proposing to strike the existing language apart from the statement that longevity pay is a discretionary pay item to be considered annually by the City Commission.
•LPOA proposal: The LPOA wants the provision to stay the same as in the current contract.
Overtime and double time
•Current contract: In part, the current contract states that time worked beyond the “normal daily scheduled shift” shall be paid at time and a half. If an officer works more than 12 hours in a single day, any hours beyond the 12th hour shall be paid at double time.
•City proposal: The city is proposing eliminating double-time pay.
•LPOA proposal: The LPOA wants to maintain double-time pay.
Double-time for court appearances
•Current contract: Officers who must appear in court on their scheduled days off or vacation days may be compensated at a minimum of two hours of double-time if they report that a “hardship” existed as a result of the appearance.
•City proposal: For court appearances made outside of regularly scheduled hours, officers would be paid overtime for actual hours worked.
•LPOA proposal: Officers would be paid a minimum of one hour for travel time for having to appear in court outside of their regular hours. If officers appear in court for less than one hour outside of their regularly scheduled work hours, they would be paid for an hour of time.
•Current contract: A shift differential of 50 cents per hour will be paid to officers who work the third and fourth shifts, which take place at night. An extra 25 cents will be paid to those who work the second shift. The second shift takes place later in the day than the first shift, and the third and fourth shifts are evening and night shifts.
•City proposal: The city is proposing eliminating the shift differential.
•LPOA proposal: The LPOA would like to raise the shift differential pay to 70 cents per hour for officers who work the third and fourth shift and 50 cents per hour for those who work second shift.
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 from 2 to 3 p.m. Friday at City Hall, 6 E. Sixth St.