If you are approached by a police officer on Purchase Street tomorrow, chances are have not done anything illegal. The Rye Police Benevolence Association will be conducting a “public information protest” in downtown Rye to update the public on the current state of their union contracts with the city.
“We are not looking to make a scene, we love our job and love our community,” said Rye PBA president Franco Compagnone.
Rye police have been working without a contract since their last expired at the end of 2008. Currently, the union and city are waiting for an arbitrator’s binding decision that will dictate what the contract will be for 2009 and 2010. They were in an arbitration hearing for the last two years. The two sides will then have to go back to the negotiation table to work out a contract for 2011-2013, Compagnone said.
Compagnone says the city is not agreeing to fair terms, while city officials say they are working to balance increasing health care, benefit and salary costs with staying within the state mandated two percent tax cap.
“We are trying to reach agreement that is fair to the employees and fair to the tax payers,” City Manager Scott Pickup said. He and the city council have emphasized their respect for the work the police department does in keeping the community safe.
The union’s primary complaints are that they contribute too much to their medical benefits, there is no money designated for training, there has been a reduction in manpower and that the city has paid “over $300,000 in labor attorney costs to the Vince Tommey Law Firm to handle labor negotiations.” Compagnone says those costs are higher than the city would have had to pay if it agreed to the union’s provisions years ago.
Compagnone said the impasse is the city’s way to retaliate against him because of his criticisms over the city’s spending habits. The union is also looking for a 2.5 percent raise, Compagnone said. The city has proposed a 2 percent raise and increased employee contributions to health insurance.
“The money they allotted to their labor attorney is eight times what it would have cost them if they settled a contract for 2009-2010,” Compagnone said.
On Friday afternoon, the Rye city council sent the press a document titled “Financial Facts about Rye City Labor Contracts” that detailed their position on the impasse with the PBA and other union contracts.
In regards to the police union contract, the document reads:
“The City of Rye has proposed a fair wage increase in the range of 2% per year accompanied by increased employee contributions to health insurance and a more flexible step plan for new hires. The City's proposal reflects the current economic realities facing the City and is consistent with increases negotiated with other bargaining units in Rye and in neighboring communities.”
You can read the information the union plans to distribute to the public on the PBA website here. You can read the city council’s document in the PDF attached to this article.