Oklahoma City's police officers are getting a bump in pay of almost 3.7 percent as part of their union's new collective bargaining agreement with the city.
The Oklahoma City Council voted last week to approve the new collective bargaining agreement, which was ratified Nov. 8 by police officers. About 95 percent of officers voted to approve it, a healthy number, said John George, president of the local chapter of the Fraternal Order of Police.
“We're very fortunate, and very happy, that our economy here in Oklahoma City is doing well,” George said. “Because around the country, people are taking pay cuts.
“So we're very, very pleased with that,” he said of economic conditions allowing the changes.
The changes to the collective bargaining agreement were fairly minor, city and police union officials agreed.
Other changes included an increased contribution from the officers into their benefits package, an increase from $1,000 to $1,250 per semester for an officer's higher education costs and a bump from 60 to 91 officers per quarter who are tested at random for drug and alcohol abuse.
“And, for the first time ever, we're going to also include mandatory fees that are charged by the school in that reimbursement, up to the maximum,” said Monica Coleman, the city's assistant personnel director. “That's kind of a nice benefit, considering that some of the schools' fees can be as much or more than the tuition they pay.”
One of the changes to the collective bargaining agreement that reflects the changing demographics in Oklahoma City is an increased premium on translators.
The city's population of Spanish speaking residents has grown significantly in the past decade.
“We're trying to hire more bilingual officers, obviously,” George said. “There's a huge need for that.”
Officers will be paid in tiers based upon their level of fluency.
Formerly, officers were paid $25 per pay period for fluency in another language.
Now, the extra pay will start at $50 per pay period and increase to $100 per pay period for the officers with the best language skills.
State law requires a new collective bargaining agreement between the city and police union every year, so negotiators will be back at the bargaining table in the spring.
This collective bargaining agreement is retroactive to July 1, and will be in effect through June 30.
Having to renew the collective bargaining agreement every year includes the drawback of city and union officials spending a significant amount of time each year in negotiations.
But a benefit is that it allows challenges to be overcome incrementally, instead of problems building for years.