MEMPHIS, TN - Last year, officials with former Memphis Mayor A C Wharton never met face to face with the Memphis Police Association during contract negotiations.
The city council had to make a final decision.
This year, there is an agreement. While it still has to be voted on by members of the police association, it is a big change.
There weren't fireworks. No big celebrations, but Memphis Police Association negotiators worked out a tentative deal with representatives of the City of Memphis.
Last year under Mayor A C Wharton, there was never a single face to face contract meeting.
"We're in the process now of mass e-mailings. We'll have an executive board meeting set up for Wednesday, and we're going to do the ratification vote on Friday," Mike Williams with the Memphis Police Association said.
The contract is one with money. A 2.75 percent raise for patrolmen and sergeants on the force for less than 12 years and a 3.75 percent raise for those on longer.
That is not all.
"We also negotiated linguistic pay. Because he understand there's a need for Spanish linguists. We've been trying to get that for the longest. They just would never do it," Williams said.
Still, Williams said while the agreement is a start, it could have and maybe should have been better when it comes to money.
And here is the bottom line. Williams said unless benefits are restored, this contract will not keep current officers from leaving.
"This is not going to stop the exodus of officers. We agreed to this because it is more than a notion and more than we're received in the last 6, 7, 8 years. So it's a step in the right direction," Williams said.
We are told members of the Memphis Police Association may get a chance to vote on this proposal come Friday.
While the Police Association and Mayor Jim Strickland agreed on a contract, but they have still got some big issues to deal with.
Those issues are never dealt with during a contract.
Benefits are things that the city council deals with.
Over the past few years, there have been major changes to health insurance and to the employee pension fund.
They remain the issues of most importance to members of both the firefighters and the police associations.
And like it or not, members of the city council will hear about them again.
There is a good chance so will a judge.
"I know they don't want to deal with it. We're definitely in court right now in regards to the pension. We believe we have legal standing with that and we're going to continue to fight that," Williams said.
It might all look pretty good on paper, but not good enough for many.
"Right now what we have is a set up to where...and I've even heard it since the city came out and announced what was going on...I've even heard officers and saw them on Facebook saying this is not enough. All I 'm gonna do is stay here, get my little time, and then I'm heading to greener pastures," Williams said.
The budget battle is where everything will be happening.
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