Common Council OKs deal with PBA

GLOVERSVILLE – The Common Council on Tuesday approved a memorandum of understanding with the Police Benevolent Association that includes changes in health insurance premiums, accumulation of vacation time and annual payments of retroactive pay.

The PBA represents all members of the police department except for Police Chief Donald VanDeusen. The previous contract between the city and the union expired Dec. 31, 2010.

The new agreement covers the period from Jan. 1, 2011, through Dec. 31, 2013, according to the resolution approved by the council.

New York state’s Taylor Law and its Triborough Amendment mandate all provisions of a public-employee union contract remain in place, even after the contract expires, until a new deal is agreed to by both sides.

The new deal includes retroactive raises for 2011 and 2012 of 3.5 percent increase each year, while 2013 has an increase of 2 percent, the agreement said.

Commissioner of Finance Bruce Van Genderen said all the retroactive raises are estimated to cost around $150,000 to $200,000 and should be paid to the PBA members within about three months, as a supplement in their regular paychecks.

The agreement also states effective Dec. 31, 2013, all members’ base pay will be increased by 1.5 percent.

Van Genderen said going forward the net cost of the increase to the city will be about $110,000 a year, which includes all fringe benefits.

The new understanding also eliminates prorated longevity pay unless a member terminates employment after completing 20 or 25 years within the state Retirement System for Police or Fire, in the event of a members’ death or if a member retired prior to 20 or 25 years as a result of work-related disability.

An arbitrator in 2011 ruled the city violated its collective bargaining agreement with the police union and had to double the pay for officers when they worked on holidays.

However, the new understanding eliminates that decision and allows members who work, irrespective of their scheduled work week, to receive 12 hours of pay at the first shift straight time rate or to convert the hours to compensatory time on select holidays.

The agreement also states employees who work holidays they are scheduled to work will receive one and a half times straight time pay for all hours worked, while those who work holidays they are not regularly scheduled will receive two times their pay rate.

The members hired after Dec. 31, 2013, also will earn and accumulate vacation time based upon their service with the city.

The agreement also allows the city to buy back a maximum of 200 holiday or vacation hours at the first shift straight time rate.

Members of the department will now contribute 12 percent of the 2013 health insurance premium, while those hired after Dec. 31, 2013, will contribute 20 percent of their health insurance premium. That total for new hires will decrease by 1 percent every year, but will never be less than the rate established for members hired before them, the agreement says.

At the last council meeting, after an executive session, the Common Council decided to table a resolution establishing a new contract with the union.

After the last meeting, Mayor Dayton King said errors in the document led to the contract with the Police Benevolent Association being tabled.

Although Van Genderen said there weren’t actually errors because some members of the council just needed clarification.

“We did not change anything,” Van Genderen said. “We approved what they had already ratified.”

King said the city was able to save money through the changes to vacations and health insurance premiums.

Dennis Smith, president of the city PBA, said this morning the PBA can’t comment until the contract has been signed.