DC police union head blasts arbitration decision

WASHINGTON (AP) - The head of the D.C. police officers' union is criticizing an arbitration decision in a contract dispute with the department.

The arbitrator awarded the officers a 4 percent pay increase for the second half of fiscal year 2013.

That's far short of the union's proposal, which sought raises of 3 percent per year with a 4 percent raise in the sixth year of the contract.

Union head Kristopher Baumann criticized the decision, saying the arbitrator should have compared D.C. officers to officers in other large cities instead of in neighboring suburban departments.

He says Mayor Vincent Gray and Police Chief Cathy Lanier have disrespected rank-and-file officers.

Councilmember Tommy Wells, who chairs the public safety committee, has announced legislation that would give the police officers a retroactive, 3 percent cost-of-living increase.

Chief Lanier's Statement on Arbitration Award:

Yesterday, we received the arbitrator's ruling on our collective bargaining agreement, ending a bargaining process that began six years ago. The arbitrator selected the District's compensation proposal, which provides an increase of 4% retroactive to April of 2013, and increases of 3% effective Fiscal Years 2015 through 2017. It also provides increases in the amounts that the District will contribute to dental, optical, and employee assistance benefits.

While I am pleased that we will have a contract that takes us through Fiscal Year 2017, I am disappointed that it took this long to reach a result. The increases are in line with what the city provided to other unions, and the 4% increase for our members retroactive to April 2013 was actually more generous than what was offered to others.

While the arbitrator refused to provide any retroactive pay increases from 2009 through 2012, the administration demonstrated its commitment to our members and to public safety by continuing scheduled compensation increases during those years. Even at the height of the financial crisis, we were able to maintain step increases for all members, provide a 4.2% retention allowance for all members, provide base retention differentials for 5% for members with 20 or more years of service, and provide for longevity increases of 5% of base pay at 15 years, 10% of base pay at 20 years, 15% of base pay at 25 years, and 20% of base pay at for members who serve 30 years. We were able to do this at a time when other unions in the District and other law enforcement agencies in the region were forced to freeze steps and benefits, and in some cases, furlough and even RIF employees. It was not easy to maintain these benefits during the financial crisis, but with the support of the administration, we were able to preserve these benefits. Preserving our pay and benefits at a time when other unions and jurisdictions were losing theirs sends a strong message about the administration's commitment to public safety and more specifically, to the work that our members perform on a daily basis.

One aspect of the arbitrator's ruling that should not be overlooked was his rejection of our effort to limit arbitrator authority. It is unsurprising that an arbitrator would reject common-sense limitations on an arbitrator's authority designed to ensure that bad cops stay fired, and instead choose the union's proposal to expand the scope of disciplinary cases that are subject to arbitration. This decision just further supports my recent testimony before the Council that common-sense legislative reform of arbitrators' authority is desperately needed to ensure that officers who are not fit to serve are not ordered back into the communities by unaccountable arbitrators.

Despite the shortcomings of the award, I am grateful that we have a compensation agreement that guarantees raises for our hard-working members through Fiscal Year 2017. I am hopeful that the future stability provided by the guaranteed raises demonstrates the city's support for the best police officers in the country and their families.

Cathy L. Lanier

Chief of Police


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