Police officers and communications officials in Brookings will see some changes in their pay and benefits in the next year after they voted to separate from the Teamsters Union and work with the Oregon State Police Association (OSPA) in contract negotiations.

The city approved the new contract in its regular meeting Monday; the terms go into effect July 1 and are incorporated into the proposed 2018-19 budget.

Ron Hedenskog, who had just been sworn into office as a city councilor before the discussion began, said police departments across the nation are seeing pay increases that exceed those of other public employees.

City Manager Gary Milliman agreed, noting that there is a shortage of law enforcement personnel to hire and numerous agencies compete against small towns in luring away qualified people.

“These were the most intense negotiations I’ve ever been a part of,” said Mayor Jake Pieper. “It took a lot to get to this point. It’s as good as we could’ve hoped for; it was a tough thing.”

Finance Director Janell Howard said the association is the first non-sheriff department entity they’ve worked with and the parameters under which they had to work were considerably different.

“They’re used to representing large groups,” she said. “They’re (usually) bargaining against the state of Oregon. Part of it is budgetary; they’re used to having big budgets. But you can’t tell me you want $450,000 in raises; that’s the cost of my entire parks department. It’s not going to happen. They just think of it differently.”

Before the increases, police in Brookings made between $3,621 and $4,863 a month; after the increase, salaries will range from $3,741 to $5,012 a month.

The new deal

The contract with the Teamsters expired almost a year ago and negotiations were slightly delayed because of the change of bargaining units, Howard said.

Under the terms of the two-year collective bargaining agreement, police will see a salary increase of 1.75 percent, retroactive to last July; another of 1.5 percent retroactive to Jan. 1, 2018, and on June 1, a salary increase of 1 percent.

Effective July 1, they will see a cost-of-living increase of a minimum of 2 percent and a maximum of 4 percent, and a salary increase on Jan. 1, 2019, of 1 percent.

Many of those negotiated terms fell in the middle of what the OSPA was demanding and what the city was willing to give, the contract indicates.

“The total is only 4.25 percent and a COLA of 2.8, so it’s about 1.45 percent above COLA which is a fairly small amount,” Howard said. “To have intermittent increases throughout the year, rather than the whole 4.25 percent on July 1, it’s a good way to catch up (with comparable cities) and not greatly affect the current budget.”

The option to bank compensatory time instead of taking overtime was increased from 120 hours to 150 hours, and the time an officer can clock in to return to work unexpectedly — a call-back — was increased to three hours of paid overtime except for court appearances in Brookings, which was increased to a two-hour minimum.

Those hours can only be collected if the employee is requested to appear at work more than an hour before beginning their regular shift or an hour after completing their day. For scheduled court appearances in Brookings, employees shall only receive overtime for the actual hours they worked, in 15-minute increments, with a minimum of two hours.

Those hours could add up quickly, as one officer lives in Gasquet, California, and another lives north of Gold Beach.

Those who are injured on the job or who fall ill will also be paid their full salary and benefits for the first 60 days they are out of work.

Starting July 1, on the first pay date of the month in January, April, July and October, the city will contribute $1,000 to each employee’s Health Savings Account for employees claiming any dependents, or $625 for those who opt to claim just themselves. Probationary employees will receive monthly contributions of $333.33 or 208.33, depending if they are claiming dependents or not. The big change there, Howard said, was that the payments are now made quarterly instead of monthly.

Parts of the contract that weren’t changed included the 5 percent of base pay any deputy who handles a K-9 gets, 5 percent of base pay increase for those who speak more than one language, and an increase of 5 percent base pay for those who are actively training other officers.

There are also raises in place for those who earn new certifications.

Vacation time allocations remained the same, with those with one to four years on the force garnering almost five weeks vacation, those with five to nine years getting 5.4 weeks, those with 10 to 14 years getting six weeks paid vacation and those with 20 or more years earning 7.4 weeks vacation.