Annapolis blue-collar workers, police ratify 1-year contracts


Members of two Annapolis municipal unions overwhelmingly approved new one-year contracts last night that give 2 percent pay raises to police officers and blue-collar workers.

Both unions will see the increase in their paychecks starting July 1 even though the city council has yet to approve both contracts.

Under their contract, police officers will contribute 1 percent less to their pensions, similar to a provision in the pact that firefighters approved earlier this week. The city will assume the 1 percent.

While city officials were pleased last night that contracts have been reached with all four unions before Monday's deadline, union members weren't quite so happy.

"To put it in an analogy, this was the hors d'oeuvres, and next year we'll be looking for the main course," said Officer John Miller, chief steward for United Food and Commercial Workers Local 400, which represents 80 of the city's 125 police officers.

The police union was the most vocal of the city's four unions in contract negotiations. However, it became clear that police demands for a 4 percent raise and improved retirement benefits would not be met when the Professional Firefighters Union and the unit of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees that represents white-collar workers approved contracts providing 2 percent raises a few weeks ago.

Then yesterday afternoon, the AFSCME unit that represents blue-collar workers ratified its contract by a 39-to-4 vote.

For blue-collar workers, who last reached a contract agreement with the city in 1996 -- that one-year contract was extended a year -- the new pact gives them more job security, said Willie Charles, a public works employee and president of the AFSCME blue-collar unit.

"Everyone's relieved that we've got a pay raise for the first time in four years and, finally, a new contract," Charles said. "But, personally, I feel the city could have given us a lot better than what they did offer.

"Our guys, who are busting their butts like today in the hot sun, lTC deserve more," Charles said. "They're not feeling really happy about it. It's just the best we thought we could get."

Pub Date: 6/26/98

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