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Woodland, police union close to contract

LONGVIEW — The Woodland City Council appeared ready to approve an agreement with the police union Monday night, about two years after the old contract expired.

A mediator’s proposal recommends cost-of-living increases of 3% each for 2018, 2019 and 2020. In addition, officers will get 1.25% raises effective July 1, 2019 and July 1, 2020. Officers would also receive retroactive back pay.

The agreement, which would be in effect through next year, would cover seven officers and two sergeants in the Woodland Police Department.

The union’s contract with the city expired at the end of 2017, and the city and the Woodland Police Officer’s Association have operated under that agreement since then.

Union members have approved the deal, according to city agenda documents, and city staff recommended the council approve the deal. The deal would allow the parties to dodge binding arbitration, which is “good news for everyone,” Woodland administrator Peter Boyce said Monday.

“We’re definitely happy we have an agreement,” Boyce said. “It’s a good point to move on, and it’s just one of those business items that both sides need to take seriously and work out, and I believe we have.”

If the City Council and Woodland Mayor Will Finn authorize the collective bargaining agreement, the city and union will only have some fine-tuning left to do, Boyce said. He said the city hopes to complete that process next week.

Police union president Derek Kelley was not immediately available for comment Monday.

In signing the proposal, the union would agree to dismiss a grievance and unfair labor practice complaints filed against the city in 2018, according to documents provided by the city:

The first was filed after the city discussed the idea of contracting for law enforcement services with the Cowlitz County Sheriff’s Office. The union complained that the city ordered specific members of the police union to not attend a meeting about that idea.

A second complaint concerned a grievance the union filed over how the city calculated holiday pay. The union said the city failed to provide information on pay practices in a timely manner.

A new education incentive would pay $50 more per month to officers with an associate’s degree, or $100 for officers with a bachelor’s degree.

The new contract would boost longevity pay by an additional $25 dollars per month at the 10, 15 and 20 years of service marks.

Officers temporarily acting as sergeants would receive a 5% premium, and uniform allowances would increase. Officers would also receive double pay when they are assigned a holiday shift on a day off with less than a month’s notice.

The city says the proposed agreement would keep Woodland near the bottom of comparable market salaries and benefits.

Finn said the union and city would prepare to negotiate for 2022-2024 contract sometime next year.


Source: https://www.columbian.com

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