By TIM ROWDEN
The St. Louis Police Officers’ Association has ratified a three-year contract with the city – its first since the city took over the department from a state-appointed board in 2012 – by a vote of 400 to 4.
The terms of the agreement, which were not disclosed, cover wages, benefits, leave time and working conditions.
Officers voted on the contract June 25 at the Police Officers Association Hall at 3710 Hampton.
This is the first time the Police Officers Association has negotiated with the city in the era of local control.
Police Officers Association Business Manager Jeff Roorda said dealing with the city’s representatives was “a pleasant surprise.”
“We didn’t know what we were in for, and they came to the table with a very serious and earnest commitment to reach an agreement,” Roorda said. “While Mayor Slay wasn’t in the room for the bargaining, his influence clearly was, and that was a good thing.”
Highlights of the agreement include:
• Raises: “We got some raises that we’re happy with,” Roorda said. “We think our guys deserve better, but in this slow economic recovery, we need to live within the economic realities.
“We frankly think higher wages make for a safer city, because you retain trained, experienced officers.”
• Binding impasse arbitration.
• Fair share language.
• Creation of a Labor-Management Committee, which must review and approveany changes in uniformsafety or equipment.
“Since the coal miners came out of the mines and said ‘Enough is enough,’ labor unions from the beginning of the movement have been about safer working conditions,” Roorda said. “We’re no different.”
“Nobody gets everything they want in a contract negotiation,” Roorda said. “Each side gives a little; each side gets a little. But the earnest manner in which the city’s representatives negotiated this agreement should serve as a harbinger of good things to come in police-city relations.”
Joe Steiger, president of the Police Officers Association, agreed.
“From our first session, we were confident that this was going to go fairly well,” Steiger said.
“They came into the whole process with the intention of signing and agreement with us; the last time (when the Police Officers Association was negotiating with the state Board of Police Commissioners) it wasn’t that way.
“I think we really made some great gains for the guys.”
Police Chief Sam Dotson stopped by the union hall to await the results of the ratification vote and had this to say:
“I’ve tried to listen and pay attention to what I’ve seen and what you’ve told me over the past year. I am comfortable with the contract. I think it says ‘thank you’ for what you do.”