Selectmen approve 3-year deal with police union

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BEACON FALLS — The town and the police union have reached an agreement on a three-year contract.

The Board of Selectmen voted Monday night to accept the new contract between the town and Local 1303-415 Council 4 AFSCME, which represents police officers in town. The contract goes into effect immediately and runs through June 2015.

The most significant change in the contract was to wages.

Officers will receive no increase in pay this year. Next year wages will increase 2 percent next year, followed by a 2.5 percent in 2014.

“We agreed to no pay increase this year, based on the state of the economy,” said Det. Brian Blakeman, president of the police union.

First Selectman Gerard Smith described the total wage increase over the life of the contract as “fair.”

“It’s a 4.5 percent increase overall, which is more than fair in these economic times,” Smith said.

Officers working extra or private duty will also see an increase in their rate of pay. The new contract states that officers working private duty will be paid time and a half plus an extra dollar per hour. The extra dollar was an addition to the contract.

Officers working on Saturdays, Sundays, and holidays will be paid double time plus an additional dollar per hour.

There were minor changes to the health care package in the contract. Smith explained, however, that the changes came from the health care company, not the town. The town had previously negotiated a deal which would leave the health insurance unchanged, he said.

“We were contractually liable to keep it in there. It was changes Blue Cross put in there,” Smith said. “We can’t negotiate any changes in health insurance until 2014.”

The contract states that the town and union will reopen the contract to negotiate the medical plan beginning in July 2014.

Holiday work also saw some minor changes in the contract. Prior to this contract, employees had the option of working a holiday if it fell on their normal working schedule. The wording in the new current contract states that any employee who wants to take a holiday off that falls on a normal working schedule must request the day off in advance from the first selectman or a designee.

“I think both sides are happy with what we agreed upon,” Blakeman said.