Schenectady County

Schenectady police union rejects contract proposal

A police contract with a mandatory overtime requirement has been rejected by the city’s police union

A police contract with a mandatory overtime requirement has been rejected by the city’s police union.

The city offered 2 and 3 percent raises on a multiyear contract in exchange for four main changes.

According to two city officials who asked to remain anonymous because of the city’s policy to not make contract negotiations public, the contract would have required police to pay for a small portion of their health insurance, a measure already adopted by every other city union. It also would have set some limits on comp time and major limits on overtime and union time, the officials said.

The overtime provision would have allowed management to make overtime mandatory in certain situations.

Sources said the policy was proposed specifically to address the situation in which off-duty Officer John Lewis got into an accident and was driven home by rookie officers last year. He was allegedly driving drunk, but the rookies did not conduct sobriety tests or ask him to take a Breathalyzer test. Instead, they called headquarters to ask for advice from a supervisor.

No supervisor was on duty that night. All of the supervisors had refused when offered overtime to work that shift, a city official said.

The union leadership supported the provision, according to a city official. But the rank-and-file members complained about the mandatory overtime policy, another city official said.

The rejected contract would have also strictly limited union time. Officers would have had to share a pot of just 300 hours of union time per year, far less than what they use now.

Currently, officers often take union time to attend union meetings or to discuss grievances. Union leadership, including the president and vice presidents, take months off at a time. President Robert Hamilton has worked only a handful of days in the past three years. Sources said he was not opposed to the limits because he has widely announced his plan to step down from the presidency this year.

The city did not release the results of the vote, but sources said it was close. They said they expect to make slight changes and send the proposal out for another vote.

City negotiator John Paolino said he’s been discussing the proposal with the police negotiating team since the vote. He is now waiting for reaction from the police before taking further action, he said.

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