ST. LOUIS–(KMOX)–St. Louis city police now have something they’ve been trying to get for over fifty years — a collective bargaining agreement.
In a ceremony at union headquarters, the agreement was signed by Police Commissioner Richard Gray and St. Louis Police Officer’s Association President Sgt. Tom Walsh.
The deal will mean raises for about 1,000 officers below the rank of sergeant. It also sets up standard disciplinary procedures and grandfathers current officers on the city’s residency requirement. The agreement also locks in current sick-leave, holiday and vacation benefits for officers.
Mayor Slay says he hopes the contract improves morale, lowers turnover and helps fight crime.
“The idea is that if you have a department with better morale, officers who are happier with what they are doing, they feel more a part not only of being out there fighting crime but more a part of the operations of the department, that they’ll have more and better responsibility and that will be more effective in addressing crime in the city,” Slay said.
In a related issue, Slay hopes the Missouri legislature will try again to pass the bill that would return control of the department from the state to city hall. The bill passed the Missouri House, but stalled in the Senate. The Police union is pledging continued support of that effort. Cost savings expected from local control are needed to fund pay raises for the years 2014 and beyond.
The Police union and Mayor Slay both they will support ongoing efforts to reach a collective bargaining agreement for sergeants.
On hand for the ceremony, State Senator Joseph Keaveny says he expects Governor Nixon to call a special session of the legislature in September, when they reconvene for the veto session. At that time, Keaveny hopes lawmakers will take up local control and the tax break package for the China Hub.