13% pay increase for Bloomington police in first year of new labor agreement

Members of FOP Lodge 88, Bloomington’s police union, voted last week to accept the city’s proposal for a new four-year labor deal starting in 2023, according to FOP president Paul Post.

B Square file photo of Paul Post, president of the Fraternal Order of Police, Don Owens Memorial Lodge 88

The current agreement between Bloomington and its police union expires at the end of 2022.

In the first year of the agreement, the contract calls for a base salary increase of around 13 percent, which works out to around $7,800 a year. Increases in each subsequent year are around 3 percent.

City attorney Mike Rouker gave a caveat on the agreement in an email to The B Square: “The contract is contingent on the city identifying a revenue source adequate to fund the salary adjustment.”

Bloomington’s city council will still need to approve the contract.

In Bloomington mayor John Hamilton’s state of the city address, delivered on Feb. 24, he put the money question like this: “We need major investments in public safety, ongoing revenue for adequate police salaries as city council directed last year, and as our proposed four-year labor agreement has included.”

B Square file photo of Mike Rouker, city attorney, addressing Bloomington’s city council in December 2019.

That “ongoing revenue” is likely to be sought in the form of a local income tax increase, which could be enacted by Bloomington’s city council for all of Monroe County.

In an emailed statement to The B Square, Post wrote: “The FOP is pleased that an agreement has been reached between the BPD [Bloomington Police Department] bargaining unit and the city.”

The statement from Post continued, “This contract provides significant increases to salary amounts and longevity payments, with the hope of both recruiting new officers to fill our large officer shortage, and hopefully retaining our well trained existing officers.”

The statement from Post concluded: “While the amounts could certainly have gone a bit further, this will be a good ‘first step’ toward correcting the staffing crisis at BPD.”

Table: Year-by-year base salaries specified in the existing, new BPD labor agreements

YEAR Officer   First Class PCT increase Senior Police Officer PCT increase
2018 $52,916 $55,504
2019 $53,974 2.00% $56,614 2.00%
2020 $55,405 2.65% $58,114 2.65%
2021 $56,956 2.80% $59,742 2.80%
2022 $58,608 2.90% $61,474 2.90%
2023 $66,327 13.17% $69,263 12.67%
2024 $68,184 2.80% $71,202 2.80%
2025 $70,161 2.90% $73,267 2.90%
2026 $72,266 3.00% $75,465 3.00%

The BPD “staffing crisis” described by Post is reflected in the gap between the 105 sworn officers authorized in the 2022 budget and the 86 who were on the city’s Feb. 25 biweekly payroll. Of those, 12 were probationary officers.

Of the 86 sworn officers on the most recent payroll, 66 of them would be covered under the labor contract—as officers first class (including the probationary officers), or senior police officers.

If another 19 officers were added to the mix, to bring Bloomington’s police force up to the budgeted number, that would make 85 covered under the labor agreement. That means in the first year, the increase of $7,800 in base pay would require at least $660,000 in additional annual revenue.

The increase in base pay is not the only place where Bloomington police officers gained, even if several categories of compensation remained the same. Not changing were shift differential pay, speciality pay and education pay.

But longevity pay is getting a 60-percent bump.

The previous agreement described longevity pay in terms of a formula: $125 per year of service. The table included in the new agreement works out to $200 per year of service for each year up to 20 years. For 20 years or more, the figure is $5,000.

The $5,000 figure is also the new amount to be added to the base salary to determine the certified salary reported to the Indiana Public Retirement System (IPRS). In the previous accord, the added number was half that, which is $2,500.

For 2023, BPD’s  IPRS certified salary works out to $71,327. That number would put Bloomington towards the top half of the 18 CALEA-certified departments in the state of Indiana, instead of dead last, based on 2021 comparative figures. Bloomington’s police department is currently undergoing its review by the CALEA (Commission on Accreditation for Law Enforcement Agencies) for renewal of that certification.

Last week’s ratified labor agreement comes after Bloomington’s city council passed a resolution last fall, in the context of 2022 budget talks, calling on Hamilton to immediately increase base pay for police officers by $5,000. That would have entailed re-opening the existing collective bargaining agreement, which Hamilton was not willing to do.

Instead, Hamilton proposed $1,000 quarterly retention bonuses, starting with the final quarter of 2021.

Compared to the end of 2019, when the existing collective bargaining agreement was approved, the city and the police union are nearly two years ahead.

At the end of 2019, police officers had been working for nearly a full year after their contract had expired. There’s an “evergreen” clause in the contract that allows for that.

This year, the agreement was reached almost a year before of the contract expiration.

The collective bargaining talks between the city and the police union started before year’s end and continued even after the police union filed a lawsuit against the city over its vax-or-test policy.

The police union was initially one of three plaintiffs—along with AFSCME Local 2487 and Bloomington Metropolitan International Association of Firefighters Local 586. But when the city subsequently revised its testing policy on Feb. 2, the police union withdrew from the suit.

The new policy allows for employees without proof of vaccination to use some work time to complete the required tests: “Employees should schedule their test during work hours at the approval of their supervisor. Employees should not purposefully schedule their test so as to earn overtime or compensatory time. Employees will be paid for the time that it takes them to drive to the testing facility, get tested, and drive back to their work site.”

The lawsuit is moving ahead with the other two city unions. A motion to put off a previously scheduled hearing was granted, based on the fact that the attorney for the firefighters union is Eric Koch, who is a state senator. Apparently state law requires that if an attorney is a member of the General Assembly, the court has to grant a delay until a “date not sooner than thirty (30) days following the date of adjournment of the session of the General Assembly.”

The hearing on a motion for a preliminary injunction is now set for April 18.

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