April 5, 2013

UCPD, University reach contract agreement

After stalled negotiations led to the possibility of a University of Chicago Police Department (UCPD) strike, UCPD officers and the University reached a deal last Friday on a new collective bargaining agreement. The new contract will run through January 2016, but has a clause reopening salary negotiations in October 2014.

In mid-March, almost two months after the previous contract expired on January 30, the UCPD officers’ union, the Police Benevolent & Protective Association of Illinois Unit 185, and the University were stuck at an impasse, and talks risked breaking down. Robert Kuzas, one of the union’s lead lawyers in the negotiations, said the union was seriously considering launching a strike.

The sticking point was wages. The negotiators had agreed upon most other issues, but the two sides disagreed on salary increase, despite having gone through mediation.

Up to that point, the UCPD’s Chief of Police Marlon Lynch had minimal involvement, according to Kuzas, who said that Lynch didn’t attend any of the negotiations prior to March 4. Lynch became more involved with negotiations when discussions stalled, and shortly after the University put forth a new offer to the union.

“What we agreed to do was that while our current offer did not go up, we agreed to take a look at the salaries of all of our officers compared to various other organizations, communities, or municipalities that might have officers and other universities; and compare wages, benefits, retirement, ancillary practices; and go back to the bargaining table and negotiate that in two years,” the University’s chief negotiator Gayle Saxton said.

The new negotiations over salary will start in October 2014.

This offer was not universally popular among union members. When put to a vote of all union officers on March 15, it passed by one vote. Both sides officially signed the agreement on March 29.

The final contract gives UCPD officers a two-percent salary increase immediately and another two-percent increase in February 2014. It also adjusts seniority-based wage increases on raises to occur every three years instead of every five years, makes it easier to use vacation time, and institutes more “equitable” overtime scheduling, according to Saxton.