Mayor Miro Weinberger Announces Successful Negotiation of City Contract with Burlington Police Union


April 29, 2014
Contact:  Mike Kanarick

Mayor Miro Weinberger Announces Successful Negotiation of City Contract with Burlington Police Union
BPOA and City Council Ratify Agreement Reached Through Interest-Based Bargaining

Burlington, VT – Mayor Miro Weinberger today announced the successful negotiation of the contract between the Burlington Police Officers’ Association (BPOA) and the City, the first union contract negotiated by the Weinberger Administration.  Last night, the City Council ratified a Collective Bargaining Agreement between the BPOA and the City that is retroactive to the start of fiscal year 2014.

“We are fortunate to have a dedicated and hard-working police force whose members focus every day on making our community an even better, safer place in which to live,” said Mayor Weinberger.  “I am pleased that after nearly a year of hard work, we were able to successfully reach a negotiated contract settlement with the Burlington Police Officers’ Association.  I also am pleased that, in a time of much concern about rising property taxes, the agreement limits cost-of-living adjustments to 1.3%.” 

The collective bargaining agreement, ratified by the BPOA on April 11, 2014 and by the City Council last night, was reached through interest-based bargaining, an alternative form of bargaining that replaces traditional positional bargaining with a process of joint problem-solving.  This bargaining process began in May 2013.

“This was a new way of bargaining with City officials, and I believe this process has proven to be highly effective, although time-consuming,” said BPOA President David Clements.  “Generally speaking, utilizing interest-based bargaining allowed us to affect positive changes to existing operational procedures and achieve benefits that otherwise may not have been possible.”

The one-year contract will allow management time to complete its review of the City’s retirement system and to examine cost-savings options for health insurance and, therefore, does not address either retirement or health care issues.

Key contractual provisions include:

  • COLA:  All officers will receive a 1.3% cost-of-living adjustment (COLA), retroactive to July 1, 2013.  The past two police contracts allowed annual 2 to 4% across-the-board COLAs.
  • Recruitment & Retention:  Recruiting and retaining qualified and experienced officers are long-standing challenges for the Police Department.  On average, the City loses more than four officers each year in advance of retirement age.  Under the new contract, officers at higher level steps on the compensation scale will receive an additional 2-3% increase to bring their salaries up to the equivalent Vermont State Police step, providing an incentive for more senior officers to remain on the job and leading to:
    • The City benefiting from the refined skills and abilities that come from their extended experience; and
    • A cost reduction associated with the hiring and training of new officers.
  • Comp Time:  Among the changes made is the creation of a cap in the amount of compensatory (comp) time that can be earned annually.  This cap will help reduce the number of shifts requiring coverage and help reduce overtime spending to cover shift vacancies created by comp time use.  Officers may earn a maximum of 80 hours of comp time in a fiscal year.
  • Operational Issues:  The parties deleted obsolete contractual language, cleaned up inconsistencies, and reached agreement on a number of operational issues, including: seniority, probation, filling of vacancies, layoff and recall, rates of pay, minimum callback, scheduling, bereavement, non-work-related injuries, and disciplinary procedures.

“Last night’s final ratification of the contract with the Burlington Police Officers’ Association represents positive steps forward in operational areas that will help attract and retain the high-quality staff that our community has come to rely on to carry out our challenging work,” said Burlington Police Chief Michael Schirling.

The collaborative bargaining process was particularly effective in allowing labor and management representatives to work out language on long-standing operational issues.  For example, labor and management were able to reach agreement on the issue of discipline through a process that required both sides to listen carefully to each other’s needs.  As a result, the new disciplinary policy balances the rights of officers to due process with management’s need to respond effectively to incidents and maintain public trust.

“I offer sincere thanks to the negotiating teams who worked countless hours to achieve this agreement,” added Mayor Weinberger.  “We’d never have reached such a fair and workable agreement without the steady leadership of both labor and management.  I offer a special thank you to then-BPOA President John Federico, current BPOA President David Clements, as well as the other members of the BPOA executive board, and attorneys Jim Dunn and Kate Lucier on behalf of the police union, and to City Attorney Eileen Blackwood for her dedication as leader of the City’s negotiating team that included Chief Administrative Officer Bob Rusten, Human Resources Director Susan Leonard, Police Chief Michael Schirling, and Lt. Shawn Burke.” 

*The following documents are attached:

  • Resolution Relating to Ratification of Tentative Agreement and Authorization to Executive Collective Bargaining Agreement between the City of Burlington and the Burlington Police Officers’ Association
  • Agreement between City of Burlington and the Burlington Police Officers’ Association

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Press Release Date: 
City Department: 
Mayor's Office