Police stand behind new contract with city

By GABRIEL GOODWIN
Sunday Times Newspapers

RIVERVIEW — The city has reached a preliminary agreement with the police unions, which would include changes to healthcare, pensions and wages, while extending the contract through June 2017.

The new agreement said the city does not pay for new officers’ retiree health insurance or offer them the traditional pension plan and lifetime health care the current patrol and command officers will continue to receive.

All officers will see wage increases of about 4 percent in the next four years, but they won’t see their first increase until next year. Patrol officers’ wages will increase by 1 percent, 2 percent, and 1 percent over the remaining three years of the contract. Command officers will receive a 1.5 percent increase for the next two years and a 1 percent increase in the last year of the contract.

In regards to healthcare, newly-hired patrol officers are required to contribute 20 percent of their base pay into the health plan to cover healthcare costs, which is mandated by the State of Michigan.

The agreement allows the city to change healthcare providers for the patrol officers’ health plan at any time – to make the healthcare costs more affordable as long as the new coverage offers the same or better coverage as the previous carrier – but the contract with the command officers do not have that same provision.

Any officer hired after July 1 will be enrolled in a retiree health savings plan, which requires both the city and the officer to contribute 2.5 percent of the officers’ base pay into the plan. The contract also said the new hires are required to contribute 2.5 percent into a new pension plan, which the city will contribute 10 percent of the employee’s base salary.

There were no changes in the number of holidays, sick days, or personal days officers can take throughout the year. The city has not confirmed or denied information that stated officers receive 13 paid holidays, 12 sick days, three bonus days and 21 vacation days.

The contract negotiations and proposed agreement was discussed by the city council during a July 15 closed session after unions ratified the agreement. The council later reopened the meeting and voted to accept the contract, but did not make the terms available until the end of August.

City Manager Douglas Drysdale said the language of the contract has not been finalized, but the proposed agreement is available to the public. He said anyone is welcome to view the unfinished contract in his office. The previous contract expired June 30 and the new agreement, when finalized will be retroactive.

The city used to require an individual file a letter requesting any information regarding any proposed agreement to the city through the Freedom of Information Act, Drysdale said, but the move to make the information public is an attempt by the city to become more transparent.

(Gabriel Goodwin can be reached at ggoodwin@bewickpublications.com.)

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