Union Contracts for Police, Fire, Public Works and Dispatchers Ratified

By Michelle Murdock, Freelance Writer

In a press release from Town Hall, Town Manager Norman Khumalo announced the completion of contract negotiations with the town's police, fire, public works and dispatcher unions:

The Town of Hopkinton is pleased to announce that the Board of Selectmen voted tonight to ratify the contracts for the Police, Fire, Public Works and Dispatchers unions. The unions voted to ratify their contracts prior to the Board of Selectmen meeting tonight.

After many months of respectful, yet spirited negotiations, the Town reached a three-year agreement with the Police, Public Works, and Dispatcher unions, and a one-year agreement with the Fire Department.

The contracts with Police, DPW and Dispatchers retroactively go into effect on July 1, 2011 and end on June 30, 2014. The contract with the Fire Department will also retroactively go into effect on July 1, 2011 but end on June 30, 2012.

All four unions accepted a three-year deal on Health Insurance which allowed the Town to switch its Health Insurance carriers from Harvard Pilgrim Health Care and Fallon Health Plan to Tufts Health Plan, realizing significant savings and richer plan benefits for both the Town and its employees. The unions also agreed to a three-year schedule of plan design changes, which should save the taxpayers significant amounts of money on health insurance costs while still providing excellent and improved coverage for the employees and their families. Key details of the contracts include:
In exchange for a reinstatement of the Quinn Bill, an increase in the “Private Detail” rate and an additional Personal Day, which will be revenue neutral to the Town, the Police department accepted;
• Bi-weekly payroll, and a cost saving FLSA plan which will cut overtime costs,
• A two-year base wage freeze with a 1% increase in FY14,
• A Performance Appraisal and Substance Abuse Testing and Treatment Program by the beginning of 2012,
• Streamlined hiring/ promotional process, restructured the arbitration process, and revamped overtime assignment policy.

• Bi-weekly payroll, In exchange for an increase in the standby pay for water and sewer of five (5) dollars over a three (3) year period, a step compensation plan based on meeting performance measures, and base wage increases of FY12-0%; FY13- 7/1/12-.5% , 1/1/13-.5% ; FY14- 7/1/13-.5%, 1/1/14-.5% the DPW accepted;
• A cap on compensatory time accrual,
• Revamped sick time policy,
• Performance Appraisal and Substance Abuse Testing and Treatment Program by the beginning of 2012
• A “no-strike” clause,
• Streamlined the hiring and promotional process, restructured the grievance and arbitration process, and updated the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) clause in their contract,
• Enforcement of the Safety Committee Policy and instituting an efficiency committee to improve business processes.

• A two-year base wage freeze with an increase of 1.5% in FY14, In exchange for a night shift differential of $1.00 per hour beginning in FY13, and a step compensation plan based on meeting performance measures, and an increase in holiday time for the Dispatch Supervisor, the Dispatchers accepted;
• Bi-weekly payroll,
• A streamlined hiring process, and an equitable and cost effective swap policy,
• Reduced the number of premium pay Holidays from 12 to 3,
• A revamped grievance procedure, and increased the advance notice period for the use of personal time.

The Fire Department accepted the change of health insurance carrier, the three (3) year health insurance plan and a wage freeze for FY12 in exchange for a one-year contract.

On behalf of the Town, I would like to thank the Unions for their respectful, conscientious, professional and intelligent discourse during the negotiations. In these times of unprecedented fiscal challenges, the Town is grateful to the Unions for keeping the short and long term financial interests of the Town in mind.
I would also like to thank the department heads from Police, Fire and DPW for all of their efforts and expertise during the process as well as the HR Director and Operations Assistant for their hard work throughout the negotiations.