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City, Police May Reach Contract Agreement Thursday

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WJZ general assignment reporter Mike Hellgren came to Maryland's News...
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ANNAPOLIS, Md. (WJZ) ―With tensions running high and budgets running low, police have come to a tentative agreement with Baltimore City over wages and benefits. 

Mike Hellgren reports it comes with a pay cut.

FOP members still have to vote on it. The pay cut is equal to five days’ salary but they get five extra paid days off–but they’ll have to wait until 2012 to use them.

The relationship between the police union and City Hall hasn’t been pretty when it comes to money.  After the union rejected direct contract negotiations, both sides went through a third-party mediator, reaching a one-year tentative agreement. 

Both sides will vote on it Thursday.

“My hope is–for many city employees–we’ll get to better times and we’ll be able to look at increased compensation down the road,” said Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake.

For now, though, the tentative agreement calls for pay to be reduced 1.95% through the end of June but police will get five days of paid leave to be used in 2012.

There are minor changes to vacation and insurance and officers can increase the hours they work at secondary employment, like security jobs.

Their overtime rates and pension calculations are not affected.

“Unlike many cities throughout the country, country, we were able to emerge without having to lay off one single police officer,” Rawlings-Blake said.

While the union reached a deal here, its leadership has had harsh words for the city, especially on pension reform, which is being hashed out in court now.

The FOP president lashed out on that just a few months ago.

“Don’t come to work for Baltimore because you have a mayor who lies and you have a mayor who doesn’t care about public safety, period,” said FOP President Bob Cherry.

The firefighters’ union came to a contract agreement with the city earlier this year.  It includes the possibility of furlough days for firefighters.

“I think we’re poised by acting responsibly on this budget to emerge better, safer and stronger,” Rawlings-Blake said.

The city had a $121 million deficit that it filled this year after lots of negotiation.  The vote on the police contract starts at 7 a.m. Thursday.

A complaint the FOP filed against the city’s pension reform plan is scheduled for trial next spring.

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