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Schenectady, police union reach agreement on contract

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Schenectady, police union reach agreement on contract

The city of Schenectady and the Police Benevolent Association agreed on a new contract after several
Schenectady, police union reach agreement on contract
Police on the scene of a suicide on Fehr Avenue by Schenectady's Central Park, June 15, 2016.

The city of Schenectady and the Police Benevolent Association agreed on a new contract after several years that includes 2 percent raises and a new health insurance plan.

The City Council discussed the terms of the contract in executive session Monday evening. The council will have to approve the contract during its next meeting on Monday.

The contract that the city and the police union have tentatively agreed on would replace the current contract that expired at the end of 2013.

In the new contract, which would expire in 2017, police would receive a retroactive raise of 2 percent in 2014 and 2015, along with a 2 percent raise in 2017.

In 2016, there is a 0 percent raise because of a new top patrol step with a base salary of $73,455, according to the contract dated June 8 obtained by The Daily Gazette.

“People who are at the top of their grade prior to that have a place to step to, so that will increase salaries,” said Deborah DeGenova, the city’s finance commissioner. “It’s not a percentage based on an amount.”

Under the current expired contract, officers received a 2 percent raise in 2008 and 2009, and a 3 percent raise in 2010. In 2011 and 2012, they received a 2 percent raise in January and July. There was no raise in 2013.

The contract also includes a change in police officers’ health insurance plan. Officers with the Schenectady Police Department will now be part of the city’s EPO plan.

As a result, the police union is withdrawing its grievance, dated December of 2012, challenging the city’s elimination of the MVP EPO 20 Plan and implementing a self-funded plan.

“The police right now have the option to choose EPO or PPO with the city,” DeGenova said. “We’re going to have an EPO contract effective at the end of this year and everyone would be in that contract.”

Schenectady Police Benevolent Association President PJ Mullen did not return a call for comment.

Schenectady police overtime hit a high of more than $3.4 million in 2015, with overtime increasing each year over the past five years.

The contract does not include an agreement between the city and the police union regarding police discipline.

The state’s highest court recently agreed to take on the case of police discipline between the city of Schenectady and the Police Benevolent Association.

Public Safety Commissioner Wayne Bennett said the state Court of Appeals granted the city’s appeal of the case over whether Bennett could discipline police officers.

Bennett said the court did not provide a date for the case.

In February the city appealed the state Appellate Division’s decision that sided with the police union, which is pushing to continue to have police discipline cases go through an arbitrator.

Rather than paying an arbitrator, the city is looking to have the public safety commissioner have exclusive power to discipline police.

The case has been ongoing between the city and the police union for several years.

“They saw something in our proposal that piqued their attention,” Bennett said. “Hopefully they see the fact that they’re the only court that could settle this issue.”

Schenectady Mayor Gary McCarthy said he is pleased that the Court of Appeals has chosen to review the matter.

The city is arguing that the Second Class Cities Law allows the public safety commissioner to discipline police, while the police union says the more recent Taylor Law, which mandates all public employees be the subject of good faith collective bargaining, supersedes the Second Class Cities Law.

Bennett has served as public safety commissioner since 2007 after he retired as superintendent of the state police, having served in that role from 2003 to 2007. Bennett oversees the city’s police and fire departments.

Reach Gazette reporter Haley Viccaro at 395-3114, [email protected] or @HRViccaro on Twitter.

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