Union, Mayor far apart on St. Paul police contract

6:05 PM, Nov 15, 2013   |    comments
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ST. PAUL, Minn. -- St. Paul police officers have been hitting the streets and protecting the public for 11 months, without a new labor contract.

"We've been through mediation, now we're slated for arbitration," St. Paul Police Federation President Dave Titus told KARE 11.

Titus thinks binding arbitration will begin in January or February.

"The issue is wages," Titus said.

The Federation is asking for a 10.7 percent raise over three years while Mayor Chris Coleman's office is offering a 5.5 percent raise, noting that other city employees have taken similar wage increases.

But Titus says St. Paul police officers don't compare their situation to other city workers. They look at the wages other officers around the Twin Cities Metro are earning, saying they're far below average.

"St. Paul is not competitive in pay. We're going to soon become a feeder program for all the higher-paying agencies and our citizens deserve better than that," he explained.

Titus says in 30 years, his officers will be 22nd in officer wages when compared to the 27 largest police forces in the state.

The Mayor's office says that's not true. The office says when looking at "overall compensation" 30 years out, the city's cops are third from the top of the list. The Police Federation says "no way."

"Mayor Coleman has prioritized police officers," Coleman's spokesperson Joe Campbell said.

He says a 3-year, 10.7 percent increase is unreasonable.

"No, the city can't afford to do this. It simply does not make any sense. It's unfair. It's well outside the mainstream and quite frankly, it's not something that the mayor or the city council believe is fair or is in the best interest of St. Paul taxpayers," Campbell noted.

Even though there is time to negotiate, it looks like the next time the two sides will sit down face to face will be through binding arbitration early next year.

The St. Paul Police Federation will start airing radio spots in conjunction with TV spots that feature officer Dan King, who was ambushed and shot before other officers came to his aid and saved his life.

"Call Mayor Coleman and tell him to keep St. Paul's finest ... the finest," King says in the commercial.

(Copyright 2013 by KARE. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

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