Police contract expected to be approved Thursday

City will pay for 2 percent raise, increase its contribution for employees' insurance if council vote passes

The Medford City Council will vote Thursday on whether to adopt a contract with the Medford Police Department that calls for a 2 percent cost-of-living salary increase for employees and a bump in the city's contribution to worker insurance premiums.

The agreement came after several months of haggling between the two sides, which included mediation meetings when talks broke down last fall, said Medford police Officer Mike Jackson, the president of the Medford Police Officers Association.

"This contract was passed overwhelmingly by the MPOA membership," Jackson said. "We expect the City Council will accept it."

The agreement calls for salary increases of 2 percent this year and in 2014.

In addition, the city will increase its contribution to the employees' monthly insurance premiums. The insurance bump will cost the city approximately $53,280 over the next biennium.

The salary increase will cost the city $135,000 the first year and $185,000 and $190,000 the next two years, respectively. The contract runs through July 1, 2014, and will cover 111 department employees.

Jackson said department employees have been without a contract for approximately seven months. He acknowledged that the talks between the two sides were productive for the most part.

However, the wage and insurance issues proved to be divisive enough to warrant mediation.

"I'd say where we ended up was somewhere between where we started and where they started," Jackson said.

Jackson said the cost-of-living increase of 2 percent will put the department in the average of what a similar agency in Oregon pays.

"We are not at the top, but we are not at the bottom," Jackson said. "We understand that we are very, very fortunate to have jobs and are glad to have these talks finished."

Medford police Chief Tim George declined to comment on the agreement until after the City Council votes on it Thursday.

Jackson said the association looked at similar-sized departments as a basis for their salary demands.

"The insurance adjustment was very important because the cost of insurance goes up every year," Jackson said.

The last time the agency and the city bargained over a contract it took more than a year to settle, Jackson said.

"We are happy to have this done with and we can now get on with what it is we do, which is arrest bad guys," Jackson said. "We think this is an agreement that both sides can be happy with."

Reach reporter Chris Conrad at 541-776-4471 or email cconrad@mailtribune.com.

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