After five years without a contract, the City of Plattsburgh Mayor’s office and the Plattsburgh Police Local 812 have come to a tentative agreement which will address the contract retroactively as well as secure an agreement through 2025.
“When I was on the campaign trail and invited to come speak to the members of this union, I made it clear there were several things I’d address as the Mayor: department succession planning, better transparency between the department and City Hall, and their out of date contract,” says Mayor Christopher Rosenquest. “My office and this department have been hand-in-hand together since I took office and they know where my heart is. Finalizing this agreement, even through difficult conversations, shows the partnership we’ve developed.”
Although the department remains without a permanent Police Chief, Interim Chief York has been embraced by the department as a driving force behind many of the positive changes being implemented. “Change is difficult for some, but the fantastic women and men of this police department have embraced these changes with open arms. In fact, many have been the driving force for what they believe has been needed for years,” says Rosenquest. “It’s refreshing to work with this department. I trust them and they deserve this new contract.”
This tentative agreement came just days before the City finalized a five-year tentative agreement with IBEW (MLD) and nine months after the AFSCME agreement was ratified by both the Common Council and members of that union. As was with Local 812, the AFSCME contract was also out of date since 2017 and the City was on the hook for over $650k in retroactive payments to bring that union contract current.
“Three down and one more to go,” quips Rosenquest. “This first year and a half of my administration has been a mix of cleaning-up old business and pushing a very progressive and innovative agenda. It hasn’t been easy but we’re creating a lot of positive and meaningful momentum for our City and at the same time closing the books on a number of these unresolved issues.”
After several rounds of stalled negotiations, an impasse was declared and mediation requested. After two meetings with a mediator, the tentative agreement was reached to all party’s satisfaction.
“Negotiation is a give and take. The City gave and took. The Union gave and took. The City taxpayers, business owners, and commuters should know that we put a lot of work into this for the betterment of the City, PD employees, and community stakeholders alike,” says Rosenquest. “This is a good contract for all of us.”
This tentative agreement includes a 1.5% retroactive payroll increase for active, retired, or disabled employees for years 2017-2021. The contract also includes provision for payroll increases of 1.5% for years 2022 - 2025. To improve workforce competition and retention, the contract increases base pay for first year employees as well as modest increases for employees who serve long term.
As per the tentative agreement, the City will owe PD employees upwards of $1.17m in retroactive pay and benefits covering the five years of missed increases due to the contract being out of date.
“The impact of kicking these contracts down the road not only deteriorates trust with our employees but also creates unnecessary financial burdens,” explains Rosenquest. “As a result of the two biggest unions being so far out of cycle, the city has had to spend close to $1.7m between 2021 - 2023 to get them up-to-date. I don’t believe this is how any city or municipality should do business, but this is what we had to resolve coming into office.”
The tentative agreement allows for the retro payments to be split into two installments. The total 2022 payroll for the City PD will increase by $143k.
As with all negotiated contracts, the City of Plattsburgh Common Council will need to approve this agreement. “Because of the nature of this process and because it didn’t go as smoothly as expected, we did our best to ensure the Council remained informed and were brought up to speed at each turn. Finalizing this agreement took a bit longer than anticipated but I think we’re all ready to take a collective sigh of relief after five years of this unit being without a contract,” Rosenquest explained.
The approval vote for this agreement goes before the Common Council at the July 7th Regular meeting held at City Hall at 5pm.