From: Visalia-Times Delta
By: Luis Hernandez, 2/21/2017
A new labor agreement with the Tulare Police Officers Union has been reached.
The agreement, expected to be ratified this week, comes after nearly two years of negotiations between city administrators and union representatives.
“The union is pleased we reached an argument,” said Roger Wilson, the Fresno-based attorney representing the union. “It has been a long negotiation.”
The new agreement is retroactive to January 2016 and becomes effective immediately after ratification and runs until June 30, 2018.
Tulare Police Detective James Kelly, who’s with the union’s negotiating unit, shared Wilson’s sentiment.
“We are excited. We are happy,” Kelly said. “It took a long time. It’s time to move on and get back to work.”
Contract labor negotiations started in April 2015. The two sides met 14 times over an 11-month period, failing to agree on three main points: salary increases, education incentives and restoration of personal days off.
The new agreement is similar to what the arbitrator ruled during a factfinding phase. The contract calls for officers to receive:
• A 3 percent pay increase effective Jan. 23, 2016
• A 4 percent pay increase effective last Feb. 17, 2017.
• A 5.75 percent pay increase effective Jan. 6, 2018. The increase will help offset a 3 percent increase in retirement payments.
• One personal day off.
• Education pay incentives for union members completing college courses. This contract component is similar to what Tulare firefighters have.
Wilson said council announced the agreement earlier this month. There were about 20 police union members when the announcement was made.
“We all learned at the same time,” he said.
In Tulare, the police union represents 58 members, including officers and sergeants. The department’s lieutenants and captains are considered middle management and have a different contract. Tulare Police Chief Wes Hensley is a department head and his immediate supervisor is the city manager.
Kelly said there was frustration about the lengthy negotiations. There was also disappointment over the offers city administrators made.
But that’s behind now.
“People from the union are appreciative with the council,” he said.
While the new contract extends until 2018, negotiations for the next accord will likely kick up fairly soon. Kelly said this past negotiation will likely help while seeking the new contract.
“I think it will be beneficial for the union on the long run,” he said. “I think it will be beneficial for the city in the long run.”
Kelly also said negotiation in good faith and honesty would also help in the negotiations. He also said increased communication with the council is key when an agreement must be reached.
“It’s a benefit to having open communication,” he said. “Hopefully that environment will be fostered and grown.”
Rogers said he’s pleased negotiations ended with a new contract.
“I am glad it’s over,” he said. “It was a learning process for everybody.”
Visalia police officers are also negotiating a base salary increase. Negotiations have been going since April. Officers are seeking a 2 percent pay increase.
In Visalia, the police union represents 110 members, including the officers and agents. Department members with a high rank have a different bargaining unit.
Leslie Caviglia, Visalia assistant city manager, said on Tuesday no agreement has been reached.
Previously, a police union representative said negotiations will likely end up in the factfinding process.