CORNWALL – A spokesman for the Cornwall Police Services Board bargaining team says the city stands to save $1 million in six years on police salaries through a new union deal.
Those numbers were shared by Pat Finucan during a signing ceremony at Cornwall city hall Friday morning.
The five year deal, covering almost all front line police officers and civilian members, has pay increases totalling 9.25 per cent through the end of 2020.
One of the big concessions made by the Cornwall Police Association was to extend the time it takes for a new police officer or civilian employee to hit the top of the pay scale. For officers, it will be six years instead of three. For civilian members, it will be five instead of four.
“In the early going that doesn’t do a lot for us financially but over a six year period, which is longer than the agreement, the savings will approach a million dollars,” Finucan said.
Finucan conceded the board is working with estimates and assumptions on the rate of hiring so that number could vary slightly.
The “convivial” relationship between the police board and the union lead to constructive bargaining, Finucan said. That happened over four days in April. “I don’t suggest for a minute that the Cornwall Police Association backed away from of any things it’s responsible for in looking after its membership – they had a clear agenda,” he said.
Finucan said the CPA also has the interests of the city in mind, making suggestions that led to savings for the city. “I was pretty pleased to see the responsibility the association takes for its community.”
The bargaining member said the “rare” five year deal will bring “comfort to the city and to the leadership and to the service members themselves.”
During the signing ceremony, Cornwall Police Association President Dave MacLean said a lot of their issues dealt around “member care” and that included a $1,000 annual psychotherapy benefit to members only. That had previously been rolled into a combined $500 benefit for other services like chiropractic care and massage. The combined benefit was also boosted $100 to $600 a year.
“The percentages (pay increases) we thought were responsible and it kept us in line with gains made with other police associations in the province and their municipalities,” MacLean said.
Cornwall Mayor Leslie O’Shaughnessy said the five year contract allows the city to do some long term planning. “It provides the opportunity for the City of Cornwall on long term financial planning when you have a contract that stretches out five years it certainly allows us to do that sustainability planning.”
The mayor also acknowledged police board chairman and Coun. Andre Rivette, who wasn’t at the ceremony, for his hard work on the file. Rivette is at a provincial conference on policing.
The deal also shows that unions can negotiate with the city without having to go to arbitration, O’Shaughnessy said, inferring to city firefighters who are already planning arbitration meetings.
“It goes a long way to show that the City of Cornwall can negotiate with the police services and hopefully we’ll be able do it with other departments that also the arbitration system on their side,” the mayor said.
Cornwall Police Chief Dan Parkinson said the contract was about “balance” and it was a deal reached based on “fairness.” Parkinson said it would be “an understatement to say this was the smoothest and most amicable bargaining process since I’ve been here.”
Deputy Chief Danny Aikman was also cited for doing a lot of research for the board going into negotiations.