LAWRENCE — After four years of negotiations, police and city officials have agreed on a seven-year contract for superior officers.
The collective bargaining agreement includes annual salary increases starting in the second year of service, along with another 2% raise for officers in their 29th year. More so, Superior Officers Union President Capt. Scott McNamara hopes the contract will spark similar action for the Lawrence Patrolman's Association, following the same four years of working under an outdated contract for those lower-ranking officers.
Since June 30, 2015, members of both unions have been working under the terms and conditions negotiated under the previous contract.
For the superiors, the city was able to get adjusted management rights over the promotion of lieutenants and captains, sick leave buy-backs, the chief's ability to assign officers to light duty, and a pay structure said to be more affordable for Lawrence taxpayers.
"We worked really hard to get the best deal for the city, but at the same time, make sure law enforcement managers are being paid at a competitive rate," Mayor Daniel Rivera said. "It's a tough balance but we did that."
Chief Roy Vasque agreed about the contracts striking an appropriate balance — between the needs and concerns of taxpayers and competitive wages for police.
"This contract is a step in the right direction for the Lawrence Police Department," Vasque said. "Not only does this collective bargaining agreement indicate a willingness to work together, it makes our police force strong by opening the door for better union communication all around."
According to McNamara, the union president, the impasse was ultimately resolved by way of informal discussions directly with the mayor.
"Like all compromises, both sides walked away with what they needed, but not necessarily everything they wanted," he said.
He emphasized the need for continued work to provide for the department.
"It is my sincere hope that the Lawrence Police Superior Officer's agreement with the city somehow serves as the catalyst towards finally getting the members of the Lawrence Patrolman's Association under contract," he said. "In my view, Lawrence police officers are the hardest working and most dedicated police officers in the commonwealth. It's a privilege to work beside them."
Rivera said that may not be so simple.
"I think with the superior officers' leadership and the willingness to meet us halfway, they gave us some things (added benefits) the patrolmen don't have to give us," he said. "We have work to do across the table."