By JOHN HOWELL Members of the Warwick Fraternal Order of Police have approved a tentative three-year contract that would give them a 2.75 percent raise on July 1 followed by 3.75 percent increases on July 1, 2022, and July 1, 2023. Mayor Frank Picozzi
Members of the Warwick Fraternal Order of Police have approved a tentative three-year contract that would give them a 2.75 percent raise on July 1 followed by 3.75 percent increases on July 1, 2022, and July 1, 2023.
Mayor Frank Picozzi did not discuss terms of the agreement, saying that the administration is in the process of conducting a financial impact statement. The contract will then be forwarded to the City Council for its review and a vote.
Picozzi described negotiations with the municipal employees union as being “very close” to an agreement. He said the administration is working on a three-year agreement, which like the police contract would commence on July 1.
The city is currently in the second year of a three-year agreement with firefighters.
The tentative police agreement is being cautiously greeted by members of the City Council.
Council President Steve McAllister wants to talk with Picozzi and FOP president Jed Pineau separately and hear from them what they feel “they won and lost.”
“It will be interesting to see what they harp on and what their priorities are,” he said.
McAllister said he intends to hold a special council meeting to review the contract. Should the city reach a tentative agreement with municipal employees in time, he would have both contracts on the same agenda. The goal, he said, would be “to put the spotlight” on the contracts.
In his review of the agreement, Ward 5 Councilman Ed Ladouceur said he hasn’t found any “givebacks” to the city.
“That has me very concerned,” he said.
Ladouceur said he has been “very supportive” of police. “I think they have always been responsible,” he added. However, he argues the administration is failing to recognize the “elephant in the room” – the cost of benefits for active and retired members of the department. He said the city “can’t afford a measly 20 percent” health care co-payment with a $600 cap on prescription drugs for a family.
“We can’t afford to continue free health care for retirees. When we’re done working [in the private sector], nobody gives us free health care. That’s not the real world,” he said.
As for the cost of the agreement, City Finance Director Peder Schaefer said the budget approved by the council provides an additional $800,000 for new police and municipal employee contracts. He is confident that will cover both contracts.