August 21, 2014 at 4:39 pm

Detroit, police union agree on new contract; members must vote

Detroit— Detroit police officers will get a 15.5 percent wage increase over the next five years if they ratify a tentative contract the Detroit Police Officers Association has reached with the city.

The tentative deal, reached late Wednesday, also will give $6 million in bonuses to all the city’s unionized public safety employees, both police and fire. The members will vote next week to ratify the deal.

“This is as good as we could possibly do under the circumstances,” DPOA President Mark Diaz said. “I’m hoping when we emerge from bankruptcy, we can get our police officers a deal that will put them on par with what other police agencies pay. Our officers have given up a lot.

“But for now, this is more than what the city was offering (an 11 percent wage increase),” Diaz said.

Under the deal, police officers will receive an initial 8 percent pay increase, and 2.5 percent hikes the next four years.

The increase will help offset the 10 percent pay cuts imposed on the city’s officers in 2013, and the 1 percent cut they took in July with changes to pension and 401(k) plans, said Officer Mike Pacteles, a 15-year veteran assigned to the 7th Precinct.

“As a family man with the only income coming in, I’ll take any raise I can get,” he said. “This will definitely be a morale booster; I expect it to be ratified.”

In addition to the pay increases, the deal will create a new position: assistant police officer. Those slots will be filled by retired police officers to handle jobs such as dispatcher, which were transfered to civilians last year by Police Chief James Craig.

“It makes sense to have former officers doing those jobs,” Diaz said. “Now, we have people from Kelly Services dispatching. You want people in there who know police work.”

The agreement comes as the union and retirees are in the midst of talks about pension fund cuts to support a debt-cutting plan as the city goes through bankruptcy.

About 82 percent of retired and active police and firefighters OK’d a city plan to reduce inflationary increases but preserve base pensions, according to balloting results filed in U.S. Bankruptcy Court. Basic benefits will remain intact while an annual “escalator” increase is being halved to less than the rate of inflation.

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