This Week in the Mercury


Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Police Commanders Get a New Contract, Too

Posted by Denis C. Theriault on Wed, Jan 22, 2014 at 12:14 PM

It seemed almost impossible even just a few months ago—with impasses looming over federal police reform, potential pay cuts, and Mayor Charlie Hales' push to de-certify the Portland Police Commanding Officers Association (PPCOA).

But as of this morning, all of Portland's police officers are working under updated labor contracts. A month or so after approving a deal with the rank-and-file Portland Police Association, the Portland City Council unanimously and exuberantly approved a two-year deal (pdf) with the PPCOA.

The new contract will cost $68,000 more than currently budgeted despite some major changes: Longevity pay will go away for lieutenants, captains, and commanders, to be replaced with extra pay raises for each rank. And the PPCOA, like every other union in the city, agreed to half the cost-of-living increase it would otherwise be entitled to during the current fiscal year. And PPCOA members, just like their colleagues under the PPA, will no longer be able to cash out compensatory time off earned while working holidays.

"I want to say how happy we are to have reached the successor agreement," Captain Brian Parman, the PPCOA's president, said in brief remarks before the vote. "We started with some obstacles."

One of those major obstacles—Hales' legal argument that police commanding officers are supervisors and therefore ineligible to organize—has yet to be resolved. Parman told me the matter is in the hands of the Oregon Employment Relations Board after the city and union made their respective arguments last year. But a deal was reached all the same, with everyone talking about how "professional" both sides acted in light of a fight that Hales made sure to say was "separate."

The PPCOA is a far cry from the PPA when it comes to membership. At most, if every commanding officer position is filled, Parman leads 51 other members. He says there's usually about 48 members at any one time. The PPA, made up of officers, sergeants, and detectives, has nearly 1,000 members.

Parman confirmed that the proposed contract didn't win a large majority, something reported earlier this week by the Oregonian. That also contrasts with the PPA, which saw 77 percent of members approve their contract.

Asked after the council vote if he could share precisely how many of his members voted for and against the deal, Parman demurred.

"I don't remember," he says, "the exact percentage."

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