By Jennifer Foley, MAP Editor

MAP won wage increases, retroactivity, and preserved several contractual items for St. Clair Shores Police through ACT 312 arbitration.

MAP was able to obtain 2 percent wage increases in each of the three years of the contract, effective July 1, 2014 to June 30, 2017, for a total 6 percent increase over the life of the contract.

“The Employer was proposing 2 percent with no retroactivity involved. The contract expired July 1, 2014,” said Association President Paul Opper. “We were able to come to an agreement with retroactivity. We were both on same page on all the 2 percent increases.”

The Employer sought to reduce the pension multiplier for new hires to 2%. The Union fought for and was awarded a better agreement. For any new member hired after the 312 award, the pension multiplier to be applied for each year of service shall be 2.25% for the first 25 years of service. The pension multiplier will be 1% for 26-30 years of service or more. The final average compensation for Employees hired after the 312 award will include base wages only.

“For the new hires, the Employer initially wanted a 2.0 multiplier - that’s what the fire fighters got from their arbitration, but we were able to get a 2.25 multiplier on base wages only,” Opper said.

The Employer won the issue to eliminate the two-tiered Employee pension contribution rate. In the previous contract, the Employee’s pension contribution was 4% for members hired before Jan. 1, 2011 and 5% for those hired after. The Arbitration Panel awarded the Employer’s Last Best Offer to change all members’ contribution rates to 4.5%, which shall not be deposited in or become a part of the member’s annuity savings.

While the Employer originally sought to eliminate pension annuity withdrawls, MAP was successful on this issue, retaining the status quo for Employee pension contributions prior to the 312 award.

“We saved the annuity withdrawal for everybody who had it going into that contract,” said MAP Executive Director Fred Timpner. “They were trying to take it away all together.”

The City also sought to eliminate the ability for new hires to purchase up to three years of previous governmental service. The Arbitration Panel adopted the Union’s Last Best Offer to keep the three-year buy back in the previous contract. Bargaining unit members may purchase up to a combined total of three years of military time or previous full-time law enforcement service for 5 percent of their rate of pay for the fiscal year in which the payment is made, multiplied by the years/months that the member elects to purchase. In consideration of payment, the patrol officer receives a maximum credit of up to three years of additional time that is credited toward retirement. Under this agreement, a patrol officer may qualify for retirement as early as 22 years of service with the City. This provision also permits a retiring officer, who would not otherwise be eligible to receive retiree health care, to have three additional years of retiree health care.

“The parties’ actuary has indicated that the continuation of the status quo would have no immediate effect on current costs or unfunded liabilities,” according to the Act 312 ruling. “The effect of allowing new hires to purchase service time would only be felt 25 to 30 years after Employees are ready to retire. Over time, as new Employees would retire, the Employer’s proposal would reduce costs by only .6%. This small savings is insufficient to justify a proposal that is not supported by external comparisons and the continued receipt of this benefit by command officers.”

“That’s a good option for people who come to our department with experience. You’re able to retire three years earlier. You’re basically getting credit for that time that you’ve done,” Opper said. “We get a lot of officers that come from Detroit to a smaller department that’s a little bit safer and they want to get some credit for that prior service.”
“I credit a lot of hard work by the MAP staff,” Opper said of the Act 312 award. “Fred (Timpner) was our delegate throughout the process and he did a great job.”