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Arbitrator gives police no-layoff guarantee

Evanston police officers will get no pay hike for this year under an arbitration award issued last week, but they’re also protected from any layoffs during the current fiscal year.

The award, which resolves contract negotiations between the city and Teamsters Local 700 that have been underway since January 2009, does provide for a 2.5 percent pay increase retroactive to March 2009 and a 2 percent increase at the start of the next fiscal year in March 2011 followed by a 1 percent increase in September 2011.

Arbitrator Stephen Goldberg said, in explaining the award, that "the current economic recession has had a devastating effect on state and local governments" and the Evanston "has not been spared the financial hardship of the recession."

He said the "legitimate economic interests" of the officers had to be "balanced against the financial ability of the city to satisfy those interests."

The award also calls for officers to forego pay for at least one of their 13 paid holidays this year. They would lose two more paid holidays if the city’s mid-year financial report shows that the spread between the city’s revenue and the department’s expenses isn’t at least 1.1 percent better than budgeted.

Then, in 2011, the officers will lose pay for three holidays.

The arbitration award covers patrol officers, service desk officers and 911 operators in the department.

The award also lets the city postpone some payroll costs by increasing the maximum comp time pool that officers can carry forward into future years from 240 hours to 500 hours.

Update 6:40 p.m.: City Administrative Services Director Joellen Daley says the pay raise for 2011 and other contract provisions are expected to add about $300,000 to the city’s labor costs. She says the retroactive pay hike, which will cost about $275,000, is already built into the city’s budget plan for this year.

Related link

The police arbitration award (5.6MB .pdf file)

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