Friday, February 2, 2007
Police and town reach agreement Union vote next step
On Tuesday, January 30, both parties to the negotiation of the Carlisle Police Union contract took a last stab at a settlement before entering binding arbitration, and in over four hours of discussion were able to reach agreement. "We're happy with the contract we signed and grateful for the support of the town," said Steve Mack, Carlisle Police Union Local 201 president. "I think both sides are pleased with the outcome," said Selectman Doug Stevenson, who was part of the negotiating team on behalf of the town. Terms of the new contract were not released pending approval by the union membership and Board of Selectmen.
Had the contract not been settled, binding arbitration was to begin later that same afternoon. This would have resulted in a state arbitrator "imposing a decision either one of us might not like," according to Stevenson. The last police contract expired on July 1, 2005, and in nearly two years of negotiation, the parties had been unable to reach agreement. In an interview a few weeks ago (See Mosquito, December 15, 2006), Mack characterized the main issue as wages. The last contract, renewed in 2002, provided salary increases of 3.25% for FY03, 3.5% for FY04, and 3.75% for FY05, though longevity pay, stipends, and other salary add-ins brought the average increase
to 10% in some of those years.
Stevenson noted the new contract will cover five years instead of the usual three. Because negotiations had gone on for so long, a three-year contract would have meant negotiations beginning again within a year. "We're very happy about that [extension] for a number of reasons," said Stevenson. "Three years just wouldn't have made sense."
Concluded Mack, "We were disappointed in the process, but happy with what we achieved in the end." Stevenson noted the town's negotiating team "will reflect on how we can avoid such a problematic process," in the future, and he expects "the union will do the same. We would all like to get to a contract without this level of anxiety."
Selectmen vote after the union
Stevenson said the contract will be presented to the police union membership for a vote, and if ratified, will be voted on by the Board of Selectmen at their February 13 meeting. "We expect they will ratify what the negotiating entities have agreed on," said Stevenson. "I don't expect any problem."
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