'The tentative contract raises every police officer employed by the City of Albuquerque to $28 an hour' - Union head Shaun Willoughby
BY DENNIS DOMRZALSKI
It looks like Albuquerque police officers will finally get to the $28-an-hour pay scale they were promised back when a 2008 contract that was broken by the city.
Mayor Richard Berry on Tuesday signed two pieces of legislation that will sweeten the pot for police officer raises, retention bonuses and back pay to $8.2 million, and the police officers union said it and the city have reached a deal on a tentative one-year contract.
Berry signed a resolution that appropriates an additional $945,000 for police raises [on top of the $1.7 million that had already been appropriated], set aside $5 million to settle a lawsuit over the broken contract, and appropriated $500,000 for retention bonuses for rank-and-file officers nearing retirement, Berry’s office said Tuesday.
“This is a step in the right direction, it is a leap in the right direction,” said Shaun Willoughby, president of the Albuquerque Police Officers Association. “It’s the first move to repair the damage that was done to the police department and its overall morale. I applaud the City Council for taking the steps to get this done and I applaud the mayor for signing it.”
Willoughby added that the APOA and the city have reached an agreement on tentative contract and are awaiting for final approval of some wording from the city before releasing it to the 794 members of the bargaining unit. After that wording is approved, the contract will be reviewed by the membership for 10 to 15 days and then a vote will be held on whether to approve it.
“The tentative contract raises every police officer employed by the City of Albuquerque to $28 an hour, which is $1.56 more an hour than what they are getting now,” Willoughby said. The deal will raise the pay of sergeants to $32 an hour from the current $31.67, and of lieutenants to $36.70 from $36.48, Willoughby said, adding that the union leadership will recommend approval of the contract.
The $5 million to settle the lawsuit will give each officer around $5,000 in back pay.
Tuesday’s announcements bring to a close a bitter battle between the APOA and Berry’s administration. In 2008, the union negotiated a contract with then-Mayor Marty Chavez’s administration that called for cops to get pay raises over three years. The final raise was to bring cops to the $28-an-hour level. But the recession hit during Berry’s first year in office, and to close a budget gap he broke the contract, refused to give the final raise and ordered all city workers, including police officers, to take a 2.4 percent pay cut. The new contract will bring cops to the pay scale they should have received in 2010, Willoughby said.
“It’s really important to keep in mind that this money and this package are not really looked at by the rank-and-file as a raise,” Willoughby said. “It’s not because they are greedy, it’s just what they were promised. We were supposed to get this raise in 2010 and 2011 when the contract was violated and the wages were reduced by 2.4 percent. We are excited as an organization to get past this and we are excited to move forward.”
The contract would cover APD lieutenants, sergeants and patrol officers. In addition, it would cover 29 airport officers, Willoughby said. If approved, the contract would run through July 2016.
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