Seattle police overwhelmingly approve new labor contract

KOMO News file photo

SEATTLE - Seattle police officers voted overwhelmingly Thursday to accept a new labor agreement that contains significant retroactive wage increases and several other new provisions.

The ratification vote marks the end of more than 3 1/2 years of contract negotiations between the city of Seattle and the Seattle Police Officers Guild. It is retroactive to Jan. 1, 2015, and will be in effect until Dec. 31, 2020.

The contract reportedly contains a nearly 20 percent wage increase for the guild's nearly 1,300 members. It also includes an agreement on police body cams as well as changes to the Office of Police Accountability disciplinary system. The guild also has agreed to drop all unfair labor practice complaints against the city over the body cams.

"This marks the end of a long negotiation process," said Sgt. Rich O’Neill, Seattle Police Guild vice president. "This contract recognizes the hard work done by all Seattle police officers and rightfully compensates them as the highest paid officers in Washington state."

Guild officials said they hoped the higher wages would help in recruiting and training officers for the Seattle police force. Wage increases will continue through the life of the contract.

“There are those who say, ‘Oh, they make too much money, or we shouldn’t do that’,” Guild President Kevin Stuckey said. “Anyone who says that I say, ‘Come do the job.'"

For example, an officer pulling a salary of $80,000 they could reportedly start earning just over $90,000 – due to retroactive pay. By the year 2020 that same officer reportedly could be earning more than $95,0000 annually.

Altogether, the wage increases are reportedly worth about $70 million through 2020.

The police guild leadership said a great deal of credit for the new contract goes to Mayor Jenny Durkan, newly minted Seattle Police Chief Carmen Best and the officers themselves, who have been working without a contract and had not received a pay raise in nearly four years.

Durkan said she will transmit the agreement to the full Seattle City Council for their approval in the coming weeks.

"As the fastest growing city in America, Seattle has new ‘big city’ challenges - including public safety challenges," Durkan said Thursday in a prepared statement. "Every day, we ask our police to meet these challenges in a complex and changing environment. This agreement would recognize the difficult job we ask officers to perform, continue the important job of reform and help ensure Seattle can hire and retain the best police officers."

The last contract was proposed in 2016, and was voted down by officers.

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