The town and police union have a contract for the first time in nearly two years, as an arbitration decision came down Monday, officials said, bookending a difficult process that had stirred bitter feelings between the two groups.
First Selectman Rob Mallozzi said he is meeting with lawyers to trawl through details of the agreement, calling it “a good award for both sides.”
“It was a terrible process emotionally for a lot of people, and there was some added expense, but in the end, I think we protected what we wanted to protect,” Mallozzi said at the Board of Selectmen meeting, held in the Training Room at the New Canaan Police Department.
Eric Brown, an attorney with the union, AFSCME Connecticut Council of Police Unions Council 15, could not immediately be reached for comment.
Specifically, Mallozzi said, the police department “did not come near” receiving the wages they had asked for.
“We got much larger increases into their pension plan—just like we have with the fire and other unions, so they now mirror them, that was something they [the union] didn’t want to do,” he said. “We also got out of the arbitration award [so that] the policemen that go out and retire, that they go out on the medical benefits of the current workers. That means in the new contract, if the increase goes up it is passed along to the retirees as well. It’s not frozen. That was a huge deal for us.”
On the police side, supervisors in the department will not be taken out of their roles “and, for lack of a better term, put into basic service, so the supervisory numbers stay the same,” Mallozzi said.
“They wanted that,” he said.
“I know the police chief wanted to have more people on the road, so that went the union’s way,” he said.
The relationship between the town and police union disintegrated to the point where, in September, some officers picketed at the train station downtown. The head of the union, Sgt. John Milligan, is involved now in a separate personnel-related matter and has indicated through an attorney that will file a lawsuit accusing the town of violating his civil and employment rights—claims that town officials have called “baseless.”
Mallozzi said that the agreed-upon contract is “nothing to jump and scream” about.
“No one won or lost, but the things I was really concerned about in protecting our future and the taxpayers’ future, really ended up in our favor very, very nicely and reflect the other agreements we have with other unions,” he said. “I think it was right for us to ask for those things.”
Selectman Beth Jones said at the meeting that she was glad the matter had been settled.
Selectman Nick Williams said: “Nobody likes to go to arbitration but there is a right time and place, and this was that place to do so, and I think this was that time.”