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In Contract Battle With Cops, DC Wins, But Everyone May Lose
What the city saves in back pay it may lose in goodwill from its police officers. By Harry Jaffe, Benjamin Freed
Comments () | Published February 4, 2014

The DC Police Union and the city have been battling for six years over a new contract and pay raises for the cops. On Monday the city won.

An arbitrator approved the city’s offer of what the police union called “meager” raises going forward and scant back pay. Entry-level pay, stalled at $48,715 since 2007, will be pushed up above $50,000.

But what the District government won in avoiding back wages it may lose in goodwill from the cops, according to interviews with street officers.

“It shows very little respect for the rank and file,” says a veteran in the canine unit, who declined to speak on the record for fear of retribution. “We are out on the street every day and night. It’s clear the city government doesn’t appreciate what we do.”

The District’s police have been working without a contract since the last one expired in 2008. In collective bargaining negotiations, the Fraternal Order of Police had asked for retroactive pay raises of 3 percent from 2009 to mid-2013 and a 4-percent raise this year. The city offered a 4-percent raise in mid-2013 and no raise in 2014, according to the union. Under the new contract, police would receive 3-percent increases in 2015, 2016, and 2017.

Most officers were expecting more back pay from the six years without raises, and their anger could affect their loyalty to DC, according to some cops. “People who can leave will start to get out now,” says a patrol officer. “They see the light.”

Outgoing union president Kristopher Baumann, a constant critic of Mayor Vincent Gray and Police Chief Cathy Lanier, sounded off.

“You have a mayor under criminal investigation that has actively worked to permanently damage law enforcement in the District,” Baumann told Washingtonian, “and everyone has stood by and watched him do it.”

Federal prosecutors are investigating Gray’s 2010 mayoral campaign, and four of his close aides have pleaded guilty to felonies, but Gray has been neither charged nor named as a target.

Gray spokesman Pedro Ribeiro responded in kind.

“If Mr. Baumann had not stood in the way, his members would have received raises years ago,” Ribeiro told Washingtonian. “After this┬ádisservice to his members, I can understand why he is embarrassed and seeking to shift blame to others.”

In a statement, Ribeiro reiterated that Baumann failed to accept “a generous and fair package of wage increases for his members.” Documents released by the arbitrator, however, show the District’s last best offer did not include back pay raises, beyond the one in 2013. The statement also said city officials “honor the service” of police.

Police Chief Lanier, who gets $253,000 a year under a five-year contract she signed in 2012, pointed out in a statement that the 4-percent bump for MPD’s rank and file is more generous than what the city offers to other public-employee unions.

“Despite the shortcomings of the award,” Lanier said, “I am grateful that we have a compensation agreement that guarantees raises for our hardworking members through fiscal year 2017. I am hopeful that the future stability provided by the guaranteed raises┬ádemonstrates the city’s support for the best police officers in the country and their families.”

The police union is hoping the DC Council will pass a law that calls for regular cost-of-living raises for police. But there’s no guarantee such a law would make it through the council.

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  • Callbox 21

    6 years and no pay raise or compensation for the years that there was no raise.... If the Chief is so dissappointed with the ruling than why didnt she step up to the plate and say the truth like " Its not fair that I have a recieved a $100,000 dollar raise and that my fellow Managers have also recieved pay raises and yet the officers who put their lives on the line every day which is much more credited to the drop in crime than my self serving , self celebrating, self absorbed guest appearances on shows like WTOP where I get to review the questions before they are asked......She is such a con artist...She is looking out for her own interests ....not the Districts and not the Department she is supposed to represent....Her own....if you dont believe that then just do a check to see how many different homes she owns and how lavish a life she lives... but apparently most residents prefer that ........As a mayor I think I would be more considerate to the very workers that I expect to sit outside my home sacraficing thier own sleep and being home with their own families so that I can sleep in peace every night.There is just no loyalty in that and concerns me as to what exactly our mayor is truly committed to. I mean these are the men and women who actually keep us safe. Who else should be treated with some form of gratitude as much as them. There seems to be no question about the troops over seas but what about the troops that keep their families safe while they are away at war...shame on you Mayor Gray!!!
    This is the equivalent of the President telling Soldiers who have returned from the war....thanks for your service...but dont expect us to pay you for it... Oh well for those of you who believe in right...why are you so silent when you see something wrong being done?....Speak up!....

  • A Cops wife

    Well Said!

  • DCgorillafighter

    This Chief and Mayor should share a jail cell with each other.

  • HOWULIKEMENOW

    This Means War between the Officers and the city.

  • James

    Its sad that the mayor and Ribeiro want to consistently lie and blame the union for not negotiating with the city. The Chairman of the FOP has done nothing but speak the truth about City Officials and the blatant in your face corruption that goes on a daily basis. This is the mayors way of shifting blame and the eyes off him and his people for the daily misdeeds of him and his staff. As for the Chief of Police Cathy Lanier you should be ashamed of this contract. I can assure that the Metropolitan Police Department will continue to have a high turnover rate of NEW OFFICERS and I am sure this was a HUGE message for the remaining officers to retire out and get their cost of living increase on time every year and for the remaining officers that are stuck in the middle years to leave and find employment elsewhere. The sad part is the retired officers have received a cost of living adjustment on time every year and they have deserved it for their service and the working officers nothing what a blow from the city. Truly the officers efforts went unnoticed from the city and for the Chief of Police to compare the Police Officers to the rest of the DC workforce WOW do they get assaulted on a daily basis and could possibly lose their life for just wearing the uniform. Probably not.

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