The St. Louis Police Officers Association (SLPOA) and the St. Louis Board of Police Commissioners announced jointly today that a formal signing ceremony for the police union's first collective bargaining agreement will be held at the SLPOA Hall on Tuesday, May 31st at 1:30 pm.
The Board of Police Commissioners approved the contract on May 10th and the SLPOA ratified the collective bargaining agreement on May 25th. The 3-year contract is the first of its kind for the SLPOA, which is an affiliate of the Fraternal Order of Police, the nation's largest police union.
In a vote that took place on Tuesday and Wednesday, SLPOA members as well as non-members who fall under the contract decisively ratified the agreement with 95% voting in favor of the contract. The SLPOA was formed in 1968 for the express purpose of negotiating a collective bargaining agreement for its members. Police officers in Missouri have been fighting for collective bargaining rights for over 50 years but they were prohibited from unionizing until the State Supreme Court reversed a long-standing ruling in 2007.
The bargaining agreement features binding arbitration and restoration of funding for the officers' previously frozen salary matrix. The agreement also codifies disciplinary procedures and grandfathers current officers on the City's residency requirement. Additionally, the agreement preserves current vacation, holiday and sick-leave benefits for officers. Although the agreement only applies to 1000 or so department officers below the rank of Sergeant, Mayor Francis Slay has made a public commitment to pursue a separate but similar agreement with the department's sergeants.
SLPOA President, Tom Walsh, described the attitude among the membership as celebratory. "This is a major milestone in our association's history."
SLPOA Business Manager, Jeff Roorda, echoed Walsh's sentiments. "This contract is a homerun for our members in a time when other public servants and their unions are under attack all across the nation. We are very appreciative that the Board of Police Commissioners and Mayor Slay had the foresight to see that this trend of attacking public employee unions is bad for the community. We've worked hard together with the mayor and the commissioners to forge an agreement that protects our members and makes their job of protecting the community easier."
Board President Richard Gray said of the agreement, "The St. Louis Board of Police Commissioners would like to congratulate the St. Louis Police Officers Association on the successful ratification of their collective bargaining agreement. This is an important day for all of those who have tirelessly worked for this ratification. The Board would like to thank all of those involved for their hard work, dedication and teamwork. This is a good day for everyone affected by this agreement."
Mayor Francis Slay, an ex officio member of the Board of Police Commissioners added, "This agreement marks the beginning of a new day in the police department. It is an important step to local control. It will also create a new partnership between the department and our officers. It is my hope that the more our officers are involved in the department's operations, the more effective they will be. I certainly hope it will result in better law enforcement and a safer city."
The SLPOA and the Mayor's office reached a compromise on city control of the police department late in the legislative session that hinged on the advancement of a collective bargaining agreement. The compromise legislation stalled in the waning days of the legislative session do to a Senate deadlock over unrelated legislation. Both the SLPOA and the Mayor's Office have asked the Governor to consider including the compromise legislation in a special session of the General Assembly if the Governor calls lawmakers back to Jefferson City.