HARLINGEN — After more than two years, the city and the police officers’ union have reached a contract paying about $400,000 in compensation.
City commissioners met in closed session with City Attorney Ricardo Navarro before announcing the agreement Wednesday night. The contract will run from April 2018 through September 2020, City Manager Dan Serna said yesterday.
Serna said the contract, which includes pay increases, will pay out a total of about $400,000 through September 2020.
“It’s a good contract for the police officers and the city and we are happy to get it resolved where everyone is satisfied with it,” Serna said.
Sgt. Daniel Flores, the union’s president, declined comment yesterday.
The agreement comes nearly four months after the city and union had reached an impasse following two years of collective bargaining negotiations.
In September, commissioners approved an ordinance maintaining police officers’ salaries and benefits into the current fiscal year.
Commissioners approved the contract after the union requested the city reconsider its offer presented last August before negotiations broke down, Navarro said.
“We were at impasse,” Navarro said. “As far as the city was concerned, (negotiations) were finished for the year. We weren’t going to take this up till next fiscal year. We felt the union left a very fair deal — left money on the table.”
How we got here
For two years, officers had been working under their past contracts’ so-called evergreen clause, which expired Sept. 30, the end of the last fiscal year.
In September, about four months of negotiations apparently broke down after the city rejected the union’s request to return to a state retirement system.At the time, Sgt. Tanya Sandoval, then-president of the Harlingen Police Officer & Law Enforcement Association, said it appeared the union was turning to mediation to try to reach an agreement.
Meanwhile, the city was proposing the Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service conduct mediation services, City Attorney Alan Ozuna said at the time.
During last year’s negotiations, the city offered the union a three-year contract that included a $450,000 pay package focusing on officers with five or more years of experience.
The union had requested pay increases for officers with five or more years of experience, arguing the department was losing those officers to higher-paying jobs with state and federal agencies as well as some cities in the Rio Grande Valley.
As negotiations continued, the union proposed a three-year contract in which officers would forgo pay increases for the first two years in exchange for a return to the Texas Municipal Retirement System, or TMRS, which would cover all city employees.
However, the city rejected the proposal, stating it would hold on to its current retirement plan.
Effective April 2018 through September 2020
Includes police officer pay increases
Cost to the city — $400,000 through