The Atlantic City Council, following a closed session for Collective Bargaining purposes, Wednesday evening, approved an agreement with the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME), Council 61. The union represents the City’s Police Officers and the confidential secretary, or a total of six members. The current agreement was set to expire July 1st, 2016.
City Administrator John Lund says negotiations began with the Union October 26th, with two additional meetings held in November, during which the Union presented its proposal and the City offered its proposal. Lund says in the end, there were some significant changes to insurance. He said the City eliminated its lowest deductible and double its highest. Single members will also now be required to pay into the system. Previously, there was no cost associated with the policy for those members.
Lund said everyone seemed to acknowledge that the so-called “Platinum Policies” or free-ride insurance policies are not sustainable. He says next year the City will pay 95-percent of the cost for singles, and 87-percent for families. The agreement also calls for wage increases to move away from Cost Of Living (COLA) percentages, to a “cent-based” system. For instance, effective July 1st, 2016, all patrolmen will receive a 69-cent per hour wage increase, while the secretary/dispatcher will receive a 56-cent per hour increase. The same amount of increases will take place in 2017 and 2018.
The Union, according to Lund, also proposed employees pass physical fitness tests. That previously was not something the State did not require, but he said it makes sense in terms of officer and public safety. Overall, Lund said he was pleased with the negotiation process. He says he has a lot of respect for both parties and the process by which an agreement was reached.