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Balto. Co. police union to vote on new contract

Members of the Baltimore County police union are scheduled to vote Wednesday and Thursday on a labor agreement that would increase their job security, but also raise pension contributions for future hires.

The proposed agreement between Fraternal Order of Police Lodge No. 4 and the county would protect members through 2016 from being furloughed or laid off. Officers hired after July 1 would contribute 10 percent of their base pay to their pensions — more than current officers contribute.

The proposal, which would cover more than 1,800 employees, includes a 3 percent bonus in November and a 3 percent cost-of-living increase in July 2015.

FOP Lodge No. 4 is the only county union whose members are working without a contract. Eight other unions, including those that represent county firefighters, paramedics, correctional officers and public health nurses, have agreements through 2016.

FOP members last ratified a two-year contract in 2010. Most terms of that deal have continued under a binding-arbitration case.

The relationship between the union and the county administration has been adversarial. The sides have sparred in court over health care benefits for retirees and a $25 million loan the county took from the employee pension fund to pay for upgrades to its recycling center.

David Rose, second vice president for the union, declined to comment in detail on the contract before the vote but said the group's leadership was pleased to reach an agreement.

"It was nice to sit down with the county and actually have a meaningful discussion and get to an agreed settlement," Rose said.

County Executive Kevin Kamenetz said, "Our employees work very hard and do an outstanding job.

"At the same time," he said, "they realize that salaries and benefits, while fair, must also be affordable and sustainable for taxpayers."

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