Updated Feb. 7, 12:58 p.m.
A majority of unionized University Police officers shot down Monday a proposed contract with GW, bringing members one step closer to picketing unless a last-minute agreement is reached.
In a 45-9 vote, officers in the International Union, Security, Police, Fire Professionals of America rejected a deal negotiated late last week with the University, Darrin Carter, head of the Local 294 branch the UPD officers fall under, said. While their contract expired Dec. 31 and talks on wage hikes and leave policies have been strained, he said picketing will not begin immediately to give each side’s attorneys time to confer and hash out another deal.
“[Members] think it’s a contract that just doesn’t respect the officers,” Carter said. “We want to give one last opportunity to talk to see if we can fix our differences. If we can fix our differences, this goes away.”
Voting on the failed agreement began Saturday and only about 75 percent of the unionized officers have been part of the group for long enough to be eligible to cast a ballot, Carter said. But even if all the non-eligible members voted yes, numbers show the agreement would have been turned down.
“We are disappointed that the members of the GWPD bargaining unit did not ratify the agreement negotiated for them by their union representatives,” a University statement provided by the Office of Media Relations read. “We look forward to meeting with the negotiating team soon and hope to reach an agreement that will be approved by the bargaining unit.”
The rejected deal offered a 3 percent pay increase for the first year of a three-year contract, but would have reopened wage negotiations for the second and third years, according to a proposal obtained by The Hatchet. It did not include a pay raise for night differentials, or wages for work between 7 p.m. and 7 a.m., which union leaders said has remained at a 75-cent-per-hour standstill for more than 15 years.
Security patrol officers at GW earn about $42,000 annually, compared to the national average of about $46,560 annually for police patrol officers at colleges and universities, according to Bureau of Labor Statistics data published in May 2010. The 3-percent raise would boost wages for GW’s officers from $21.41 to $22.05 – 34 cents lower than the national hourly pay.
Officers also disapproved of a provision that would allow supervisors to cancel an officer’s leave in emergency cases, Carter said. The policy would require officers with previously granted time off to show up at work if they could not present a receipt declaring a $100 or higher vacation cost.
Carter said the union would not wait longer than a week to reach another deal and will otherwise picket.
“Everyone has spoken for themselves,” he said.