WALLA WALLA — For the second time in more than 25 years, a union contract dispute between Walla Walla Police Guild members and city managers had to be settled through binding arbitration.
In the most recent settlement, city department head and staff pay increases of three years ago while police wages were frozen were noted as one reason Police Guild members were unwilling to budge.
In documents filed in June by arbitrator Kenneth James Latsch, he said Guild members clearly noted that back in 2011 — only two months after officers had agreed to pay freezes and giving up their deferred comp — the city’s department directors were given 7.1 percent salary increases.
In addition, 21 other non-represented city employees received 5-7 percent pay increases that year.
With that history, Guild members were set on receiving a 5 percent pay increase for 2013, and 4 percent increases for 2014 and 2015.
City managers, on the other hand, were requesting 1.5 percent increases for 2103, 2014 and 2015.
Latsch’s binding decision was that Police Guild members would receive 2.5 percent increases for 2013 and 2014, and a 3 percent increase for 2015.
The increases are retroactive.
Latsch also decided the issue that dealt with a disagreement over what percent officers would pay for a medical insurance premiums.
Guild members wanted to keep the current 5 percent employee contribution for medical insurance premiums.
City managers wanted employees to contribute 10 percent.
Latsch decided that starting this month, Police Guild members will pay 10 percent of their insurance premium.
Not all the new contract changes were sticking points between both entities. Early on in the negotiations, which started in 2012, both sides had agreed to a number of changes that covered grievance and complaint procedures, bereavement policies, compensatory pay and pay incentives for officers that perform specialty training, such as performing hostage negotiations.
The last time binding arbitration occurred between city managers and the Police Guild was in 1986.
On Wednesday, City Council members will review and vote on the 2013-2015 contract.
Alfred Diaz can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 526-8325.