ALPENA - Contract negotiations between the City of Alpena and the Police Officers Labor Union began in April and after hours of mediation the two sides have agreed to a pair of two-year agreements with the officers and the department commanders. The new contract was approved by Alpena Municipal Council after going into executive session during Monday's meeting.
Among the details of the agreement are a 1 1/2 percent wage increase during each year of the new agreement for both the patrol and command units of the department. There also will be a new cafeteria health insurance plan with an increased cost share and a reduction ion deferred compensation for each year. There is an increase of the employee's contribution in the pension program.
City Manager Greg Sundin said in order to get a deal done both sides needed to understand the concerns of the other and meet somewhere in the middle. He said in the end both sides did what they needed to do to finalize the deal.
"I think both sides realized the constraints the city is working under right now and it realized some of the concerns they had," Sundin said. "We were able to give what we could and they were able to give what they could. Both sides made concessions and in the end it is a fair deal. It may not be ideal, but it is fair."
Besides the police Sundin has helped finalize new deals with the department of public works and the fire department. Only one contract issue remains that needs to be resolved and that is the clerical staff. Mayor Matt Waligora said the new agreement falls in line with other agreements that have been reached this year and he appreciates the consideration both sides exhibited in order to get a deal done. He said he believes a new deal with the clerical staff can be reached before the end of the month.
"We have seen some savings, but that is not what these deals are all about. We want to be able to take care of our workers and it is nice to get these done without long, dragged-out, hard nose negotiations," Waligora said. "Taking care of our workers is critical and it is my opinion that both sides gave a little, but we were able to do that."
Sundin said he appreciated the cooperation of both of the police units for working with the city to help control costs in today's trying financial times.
Steve Schulwitz can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 358-5689. Follow Steve on Twitter ss_alpenanews. Read his blog, Upon Further Review ... at www.thealpenanews.com.