Holyoke council approves police union contract


Staff Writer
Published: 6/17/2020 9:36:57 PM

HOLYOKE — The City Council has finalized a new contract with the union representing Holyoke police officers that covers their services back to last July.

The contract was finalized after councilors approved a $184,246 transfer from the city stabilization account for retroactive pay bumps for the police included in the contract. City contracts are negotiated by the mayor.

The new contract expires on June 20, 2022. It includes raises for officers, including significant incentives for those seeking college degrees and a 2% increase for officers who administer the opioid-overdose antidote naloxone; a provision that limits the amount of time written reprimands are kept in an officer’s file (18 months); and an agreement that the city would pay half of officers’ annual dues to the Massachusetts Police Association’s legal defense fund.

The financial transfer necessary to verify the contract passed with 10 “yes” votes. At-Large Councilor Rebecca Lisi and Ward 6 Councilor Juan Anderson-Burgos did not appear to be present during the virtual vote. At-Large Councilor James Leahy abstained from the discussion and vote because he has a family member who works on the police force.

The contract had been the subject of lengthy discussion at recent Finance Committee meetings over the educational incentives included in the contract. The new contract gives certain officers a 6% increase to their base pay if they get an associate degree, 10% for a bachelor’s degree and 12% for a master’s degree.

At-Large City Councilor Joe McGiverin, who chairs the Finance Committee, was the only councilor to speak about the contract at Tuesday’s full City Council meeting.

“This has a significant impact on the police budget,” McGiverin said.

McGiverin said that he is in favor of incentivizing education for police officers, particularly during a moment when people across the country are protesting police violence and racism. 

“We need, now more than ever, to hire educated police officers,” he said.

Police department budgets have been under scrutiny in cities across America, with many protesters calling for police departments to be defunded and for that money to be redirected to other essential services.

Dusty Christensen can be reached at dchristensen@gazettenet.com.

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