St. Louis Police Department
4:48 pm
Tue May 10, 2011

St. Louis Police Board reaches agreement with Police Officers' Association

The St. Louis Board of Police Commissioners has reached a collective bargaining agreement with the St. Louis Police Officers' Association.

It's a three-year deal that locks in salaries, benefits and department operating procedures. Mayor Francis Slay called the hard work it took to reach the deal worth it.

"I think it gives us a good opportunity to have a stronger partnership and to work together more closely for a better department and one that helps us address crime and other issues in the city of St. Louis," he said.

Here's a snapshot of what the agreement includes:

  • Applies to the department's 975 probationary and patrol officers. Officers above the rank of sergeant, and the department's civilian employees, are not covered.
  • The Police Officers' Association must ratify the agreement within 30 days - but union business manager Jeff Roorda said that's not expected to be a problem:

"Less than four years ago, police officers in Missouri didn't even have the right to collectively bargain. Now we've got an iron-clad contract that has arbitration not only on grievances but also on renegotiations. Those are unheard of in Missouri."

  • The agreement preserves sick leave buyback for current officers - they can also continue to accumulate it. Pensions will also remain under state control.
  • Salary increases that officers get for each year they remain on the force will be fully funded by 2013. The salary matrix has been frozen for two years.
  • Any dispute that can't be resolved during renewal negotiations would go to mediation and binding arbitration.
  • The contract outlines the transition from an appointed board to oversight by city elected officials - that is, local control.

So, how does this all fit together?

Mayor Francis Slay says it became clear to him last year that to return the police department to city control, he'd have to neutralize the opposition of the police officers, who saw state control as a way to preserve their pensions and the ability to appeal disciplinary decisions. With those items codified in a collective bargaining agreement, the union dropped its objection to local control.

It's not clear whether the local control legislation will pass the Missouri General Assembly this year, but the contract takes effect as soon as it's ratified.

Today's Voting Breakdown

The five-member commission voted today as follows:

  • 3 votes for, 1 against, 1 abstention

For

  • Jerry Lee
  • St. Louis Mayor Francis Slay
  • Richard Gray

Against

  • Bettye Battle-Turner. She said she supports collective bargaining, but felt the deal approved today wasn't inclusive enough.

Abstaining

  • Michael L. Gerdine. Gerdine's term on the board has technically expired, and Gov. Jay Nixon has nominated Tom Irwin, a local control supporter, to replace Gerdine. Irwin, however, wasn't confirmed in time.