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January 15. 2013 10:38PM

Auburn reaches first bargaining agreement with its new police union

The Town of Auburn and the Auburn Police Union have reached their first collective bargaining agreement, ratifying a contract that will face voters in March.

Negotiations began Nov. 15 and the parties concluded negotiations Jan. 7, ratifying a contact that included $33,313 in salary and wage-related cost increases.

According to a joint press release issued by the Police Commission, Board of Selectmen, and Police Union, "the agreement provides pay increases for all covered employees and maintains most benefits at the existing levels, while at the same time preserving the Commission and the town's control over the management, direction, and operation of the Police Department."

Town Administrator Dan Hermon also noted to the town's Budget Committee on Jan. 9 that the contract advanced part-time workers by three steps, kept full-timers where they are, and lacked an evergreen, or roll-over clause, meaning the union would have to come back to the negotiating table for any additional wage increases. The Budget Committee issued a vote of recommendation for the contract at that meeting.

According to the 2012 annual report, the Auburn Police Department's 23 employees collectively made $753,340 in gross earnings in 2011, including overtime pay and outside detail.

The two parties had hoped to reach a three-year agreement in order to avoid a second round of lengthy negotiations in the near future. By the time the deadline for submission to the town ballot came, however, only a one-year contract had been agreed to, starting April 1, 2013 and ending March 31, 2014.

"The first contract is always the most important for both sides because it establishes the basis for any future contract," said Hermon.

Hermon told the Budget Committee on Jan. 10 that the next round of negotiations will begin in July.

The Police Union and representatives of the town also reached a separate agreement related to the ongoing traffic flagger dispute. The Auburn Police Union had filed an unfair labor practice complaint with the Public Employee Labor Relations Board on Nov. 15 regarding an Auburn traffic ordinance which allowed the town to use private flaggers rather than using a more expensive police detail to manage traffic at roadwork sites.

The complaint was scheduled to be heard by the PELRB on Jan. 22, but the agreement reached by the town and the union will suspend that complaint for 90 days while the two parties attempt to solve the issue.

The town's deliberative session is scheduled for Feb. 2, with the town election taking place on March 12. Both are set to occur at the Auburn Village School. A copy of the agreement will be made available to public at the town office as well as on the town website.

The Auburn Police Union was formed in the late summer of 2012, with the New England Police Benevolent Association serving as their representative.

bclogston@newstote.com


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