New ‘generous’ contracts for firefighters, police and fire management unions

The Stockton Base Fire Department, Fire Management and Police Branch have reached a bargaining agreement with the city.

At the July 12 meeting of Stockton City Council, the council approved contracts through June 2025 with Stockton Fire Department’s Local 456 Fire Unit, Stockton Fire Department’s Local 456 Fire Management Unit Stockton and the Stockton Police Management Association. The city had been in negotiations with public safety unions since March.

City Manager Harry Black said the new contracts allow the city to make significant progress towards closing the pay gap in public safety pay compared to other regional cities.

“This is probably the most impactful round of bargaining in 15 years for the city, especially post-bankruptcy,” Black said. “Based on our numbers, this will allow us to move from a double-digit below-market situation to a below-single-digit situation.”

The police and fire collective agreements provide for an immediate 10% increase in base pay, a 3% increase in July 2023 and 2024, a $5,000 bonus for all employees in January 2024, and an increase in City health contribution effective immediately.

New Stockton Police Chief Stanley McFadden is sworn in by City Manager Harry Black during a ceremony at the Stockton Memorial Civic Auditorium in downtown Stockton on Thursday, June 2, 2022.

The rank and file union contract includes an immediate 9.65% increase in base pay, a 3% increase in July 2023 and 2024, a $5,000 bonus for all employees in January 2024, and a the City’s health contribution with immediate effect.

The contracts are larger cost-of-living adjustments and wage increases than when unions last negotiated contracts with the city in 2020, according to city staff reports. The three-year total cost of the new contract increases is $21,392,656, most of which will come from the general fund. Increases in health premiums represent $417,960.

“The contracts that have been negotiated and approved are generous, but we felt it made sense for today. Based on the impacts of the pandemic, based on the previous bankruptcy, we knew the contracts for this go-around were going to have to be different,” Black said. “We’re stretching responsibly, that’s the farthest we can go right now.”

Inking agreements with unions and special interest groups has been a sensitive topic for Stockton since the city’s bankruptcy involving a deal providing firefighters with comprehensive health care upon retirement. Black confirmed that the new contracts are part of the city’s long-term financial plan.

(6/2/22) Stockton police officers listen to new Stockton Police Chief Stanley McFadden speak during a ceremony at the Stockton Memorial Civic Auditorium in Stockton town center on Thursday, June 2, 2022. CLIFFORD OTO/THE STOCKTON RECORD

The Stockton Police Officers Association returned to the negotiating table with the city on July 20 but failed to reach an agreement. The rank-and-file police union has firmly rejected the city’s latest contract offer, with the new union leadership saying it would have done nothing to stem the exodus of police officers from Stockton. Murders in Stockton are on the rise and the number of sworn police officers in Stockton has fallen below 400 for the first time since July 2016.

ICYMI:Stockton police union rejects city’s latest contract offer as staff shortages grow

Black said the deal on the table would reduce the current 20% pay gap to 5%. Union leadership disputes Black’s interpretation of the pay gap and said officers were paid 34% less than comparable cities under new contracts negotiated this year.

“The deal that’s on the table would reduce the 20% (pay gap) to 5%,” Black said. “The strategy is: let’s go as far as we can in this trading round, try to reduce that number and prepare for even greater success when we get to the next trading round in 2025. Based on what is on the table, we would most likely be able to close the gap to zero when we get to the next cycle.

Record reporter Ben Irwin covers Stockton and San Joaquin county government. He can be reached at [email protected] or on Twitter @B1rwin. Support local news, subscribe to The Stockton Record at https://www.recordnet.com/subscribenow.

Comments are closed.