Today the Civil Service Commission voted unanimously to approve the Impasse Panel recommendation regarding wages for the final year of our current contract. As detailed in the Impasse Panel document that was sent to the membership, this recommendation leaned considerably in favor of our proposals, not the state’s, to significantly raise starting pay and shorten the pay scale. New hires will surpass $25 per hour within 6 months and all officers that will still be inside of the pay scale will advance the equivalent of two steps, topping out at 42 months. The Commission did not support our proposal of a 14% base pay increase and approved the 5%, which will bring E9 top pay to $32.94 per hour. This ruling lands us short of our overall goal but is a significant increase over what the state was offering and results in an additional $20 million over what the state’s proposal would have allotted for our overall wages. This ruling will no doubt receive hot and cold reception by all of you depending on whether or not the accelerated step increases will affect your pay rate in addition to the 5% base raise. We all know that a higher base pay increase is needed, and the Executive Board will continue to pursue that goal in the coming months when negotiations resume in the summer. As we all know, the vast majority of officers that have resigned over the past several years have left before reaching 5 years of service. Hopefully the approved increase in starting pay and accelerated pay scale will help address the retention of these officers and help reduce the overall vacancy rates that are impacting the entire membership.
I also want to clarify questions around the $2,250 “ratification bonus” that the other state employee unions will receive. Those bonuses were only able to be approved if a union’s membership voted on and ratified their contract, accepting the state’s offer of 5% without attempting to negotiate a higher amount. We chose to pursue a higher increase, higher starting pay, and shortened pay scale at impasse because we were certain that our membership would not have voted in favor of ratifying a proposal of 5% even if it included the $2,250 before tax carrot that the state dangled out there. That bonus was never going to be in play for us either path we chose, plain and simple.
As for the pending round of recruitment/retention bonuses that were approved by the legislature ($1,000 for 3+ year officers/$3,000 new hires), the Commission tabled those bonuses today due to the Office of the State Employer failing to produce the agreement by the Dec. 1, 2023, deadline that the legislature designated. The Commission wants the agreement resubmitted at the Feb. 7, 2024, Commission meeting so they can confirm with the state budget office that the funds are still approved even though the deadline has passed. We are certain that the funds are still approved and don’t believe that this delay was necessary. We will send an update as soon as the agreement has been resubmitted.
Hybrid pension bill update- this was not a topic of discussion at the Commission meeting today, but I just wanted to give a brief confirmation that the hybrid pension bills are still active in the House and Senate and have not stalled out. The legislature is on their holiday break until mid-January. As the bills move through the Senate and House toward being voted on, we will update each step.