Police contract with 13% initial raise OK’d by Bloomington city council

On a unanimous vote, Bloomington’s city council has approved a new labor agreement with its police union, which has been unsigned since it was ratified in early March by a vote of the FOP Lodge 88.

The council’s action came at its regular meeting on Wednesday.

The highlight of the new four-year deal, which starts in 2023, is more pay for police officers. 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.

On Wednesday, it was city attorney Mike Rouker who reviewed for city councilmembers the legal and political nuts and bolts of the deal.

Among the political points was the fact that Bloomington’s mayor John Hamilton made the new labor deal contingent on the city council’s recent approval of an increase in the local income tax.

Rouker pegged the direct fiscal impact of the new agreement over four years at $4,917,000. Rouker called it “a truly unprecedented investment in public safety and in our police officers.”

The significant increase in pay is meant to help Bloomington’s police department contend with challenges in recruitment and retention. Continue reading “Police contract with 13% initial raise OK’d by Bloomington city council”

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.” Continue reading “13% pay increase for Bloomington police in first year of new labor agreement”

Vax-or-test policy: Lawsuit against Bloomington filed by three city unions contends new regs on COVID-19 impose new unnegotiated employment conditions

A lawsuit filed on Tuesday against the city of Bloomington in Monroe County circuit court claims that a new COVID-19 policy is in conflict with union contacts.

The city’s policy requires employees to show proof of vaccination against COVID-19 or get tested weekly for an infection. If any employee does not show proof of vaccination or get tested weekly, then under the policy, they will be “removed from the workplace until they provide a test result.”

Absences caused by failure to comply with the vax-or-test policy will necessarily mean lost income. The policy states: “They will not be allowed to use benefit time to cover their absences; the absence will be unpaid.”

On Saturday morning through mid-day, a dozen or so members of the city’s AFSCME local, including some workers in the public works and utilities departments, demonstrated on the courthouse square in downtown Bloomington against the city’s vax-or-test policy. They held signs with slogans like, “Please Don’t Abuse Loyal Employees” and “Keep Compassion in Fashion”

The lawsuit contends that the city’s new policy imposes new conditions of employment that the City did not negotiate with the unions. Continue reading “Vax-or-test policy: Lawsuit against Bloomington filed by three city unions contends new regs on COVID-19 impose new unnegotiated employment conditions”

Bloomington corporation counsel on city council’s police pay resolution: “This is in some ways the council taking over the bargaining process.”

The backdrop of a city council work session on Friday was news that another Bloomington police officer had unexpectedly left the department the day before, following on the heels of a resignation the previous week.

The focus of the work session was to consider a resolution calling for increased police pay, which the council might approve at a special meeting next Wednesday.

Weighing in at the work session against the council’s resolution was the city’s corporation counsel, Philippa Guthrie, who sees it as an intrusion into the collective bargaining process between the administration and the police union.

Guthrie said, “[The resolution] is in some ways the council taking over the bargaining process.” She added, “I’m not positive, but I believe that the $5,000 figure, or whatever else you’ve got in the resolution, would have come from the police union. So in effect, you are bargaining with the police union.”

The $5,000 figure is the amount specified in the resolution as an increase in pay for all sworn officers.

The resolution is sponsored by councilmembers Dave Rollo, Susan Sandberg, and Ron Smith. [Updated on Sept. 8 at 5:32 p.m. In a joint statement released by Bloomington mayor John Hamilton and police chief Mike Diekhoff, they discouraged the idea of re-opening the collective bargaining process. However, Hamilton and Diekhoff supported the idea of increasing the recruitment and retention pool proposed in the 2022 budget from $250,000 to $500,000. The new amount would work out to roughly $5,000 per officer.  Link: Text of 2021-09-08 joint statement]

Continue reading “Bloomington corporation counsel on city council’s police pay resolution: “This is in some ways the council taking over the bargaining process.””

Budget notebook: Bloomington police salary data

Much of last Tuesday’s Bloomington city council hearing on the police department’s 2022 budget focused on pay for Bloomington’s sworn officers.

A key question councilmembers were keen to get answered: How does compensation for Bloomington’s police officers stack up against compensation in other Indiana cities?

At last Tuesday’s meeting, Fraternal Order Police Lodge 88 representatives told councilmembers that BPD compensation ranks 68th out of the state’s roughly 153 departments—still in the top half, but not by much.

That’s consistent with the 2021 data that the FOP Lodge 88 has since provided to The B Square. Continue reading “Budget notebook: Bloomington police salary data”

Bloomington city council critical on first night of 2022 budget hearings: police, parking, sidewalks

On Monday, the first night of departmental hearings on Bloomington mayor John Hamilton’s proposed 2022 budget, several city councilmembers conveyed their dissatisfaction about one or more aspects of next year’s financial plan.

Those points of friction included police officer compensation, a parking cashout program for city employees, and alternative transportation funding.

Even though Tuesday is the night scheduled for public safety budgets, Hamilton fielded sharp questions on Monday from councilmembers Dave Rollo and Susan Sandberg about the adequacy of compensation for Bloomington police officers.

Rollo even floated the idea that the current collective bargaining agreement (CBA) with the police union could be reopened to provide higher compensation. The current CBA, approved in late 2019, runs through 2022.

Rollo and Sandberg have concerns about recruitment and retention of police officers. Bloomington currently has 92 sworn officers, which is 13 fewer than the 105 that are authorized.

Rollo doesn’t see the $250,000 pool of retention and recruitment funds in the 2022 budget as adequate.

At one point during Monday’s meeting, Sandberg asked Hamilton, “Do you feel the same sense of urgency that some of us do from having talked to our officers that are currently stressed to a point that I think is almost bordering on a crisis?”

The topic of police staffing levels is certain to be a highlight of Tuesday’s budget hearing, when police chief Mike Diekhoff presents his department’s budget.

Unlike the individual departmental budget presentations, Hamilton’s overview of the budget on Monday was not subjected to an informal straw poll.

The dissatisfaction expressed by the council at Monday’s meeting was not confined to the mayor’s overview.

If the city council’s straw polls had any legal significance, only two of the six departmental budgets presented on Monday would have been approved. The tallies on the straw polls (yes-no-abstain) were: human resources (3–1–5); legal (8–0–1); information technology (4–0–5); council office (6–2–1); controller (4–4–1); and mayor’s office (5–0–4). Continue reading “Bloomington city council critical on first night of 2022 budget hearings: police, parking, sidewalks”

Concern about Bloomington’s police staffing levels in light of potential annexations: By the numbers

According to Bloomington’s fiscal plan in support of its proposed annexation of territory,  the police department would need to add between 24 and 31 sworn officers, at a cost of up to around $2.6 million a year.

The additional officers would be needed in order to provide service to 9,000 more acres of area, and about 14,000 more people, based on Bloomington’s annexation plans.

At Wednesday’s public hearing on the proposed annexations, the president of Bloomington’s police union spoke about his concerns.

Paul Post, who’s president of the Fraternal Order of Police, Lodge 88 and a senior police officer for BPD, asked the city council: “Will the city have enough police officers to provide basic police services for the new version of Bloomington?”

It’s an open question, according to Post, because BPD has not been able to maintain the number of officers authorized in the city’s current budget.

BPD has fewer sworn officers than its budgeted number, but is losing officers as fast as the department can replace them, based on Post’s description.

The immediate consequence of the officer shortage, according to Post, is that all three of BPD’s uniformed patrol shifts have had to lower their daily minimum staffing levels. BPD is working at or below minimum staffing, Post said.

That means there are fewer officers who are available to field increased calls for service like “weapons in progress,” according to Post.

The numbers in Bloomington’s online payroll system and calls for service dataset basically square up with Post’s remarks.

Continue reading “Concern about Bloomington’s police staffing levels in light of potential annexations: By the numbers”

Bloomington mayor: Proposed 2021 budget will reduce sworn police from 105 to 100

During a panel discussion with other city officials, live streamed Thursday afternoon on Facebook, Bloomington’s mayor, John Hamilton put numbers to an idea he mentioned in a speech two weeks ago.

cropped-09-28-2019-police-patch-IMG_4703

The 2021 budget proposal, which the mayor will eventually present to the city council in mid-to-late August, would reduce the number of sworn officer positions with the Bloomington police department (BPD) from 105 to 100.

The budget is scheduled for adoption in October.

The idea is to re-allocate the money for five sworn officers to at least five new non-sworn positions—a mix of social workers and neighborhood resource specialists, Hamilton said.

The move comes in the context of calls nationwide and locally to “defund the police.” Continue reading “Bloomington mayor: Proposed 2021 budget will reduce sworn police from 105 to 100”

Union head on police contract OK’d by city council: “I would be remiss if I told you the members were happy about it.”

Bloomington police officers now have a contract with the city for the next three years, through the end of 2022. The four-year deal, approved by the city council on Wednesday night, stretches back to the beginning of 2019, when the current contract expired.

Officers have been working this year under an “evergreen” clause of the old contract.

The 2-percent raise for this year was not applied retroactively, though it feeds into the schedule of raises each year for the next three years, which range from 2.65 to 2.9 percent.

Instead of applying the raise retroactively, which according to city staff would have been administratively too complex, officers received a $1,000 bonus. The bonus is about $60 less than 2 percent of the base salary for an officer, which was $52,916 in 2018.

Paul Post, who’s president of the Fraternal Order of Police, Don Owens Memorial Lodge 88, told the city council that the main point of contention—about which the union members were not happy—was a move away from seniority as the sole factor in determining shift assignments.

The council approved the contract and the salary ordinance as separate items. The votes were unanimous. Continue reading “Union head on police contract OK’d by city council: “I would be remiss if I told you the members were happy about it.””

New four-year Bloomington police contract could get one-step approval by city council next week

Negotiations between Bloomington and its police union, which have lasted the better part of two years, concluded in mid-November with ratification by the union of a new four-year contract.

The contract runs through 2022. The agreement and its corresponding salary ordinance appear on the city council’s meeting agenda next week for Wednesday, Dec. 4. The new agreement includes raises each year between 2 and 2.9 percent. Continue reading “New four-year Bloomington police contract could get one-step approval by city council next week”