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Town, police union strike deal

Contract to save $80,000 over three years, union hopes to restore positions

Bethlehem Police Department.

Bethlehem Police Department. Photo by Spotlight Staff.

— The Town of Bethlehem and its police officer’s union have come to a new contract deal more than one year after the previous contract expired.

The Bethlehem Town Board officially approved the new contract with the Bethlehem Police Benevolent Association on Wednesday, Feb. 23. The previous contract expired at the end of 2011, as did those with the police supervisor’s union and telecommunicator’s union. New contracts have already been negotiated with those smaller bargaining units.

“We were pleased after many months of negotiations that required mediation and was heading to the costly arena of arbitration, that by working together with the PBA’s new leadership we were able to come to this agreement,” said the town’s Director of Human Resources Mary Tremblay-Glassman.

The contract includes a 2 percent salary increase for 2014 beginning in January, but the town’s patrol officers and detectives will not receive a cost of living increase for the two years prior. In return, the town agreed to a step increase of $2,500 for all officers with at least eight full years of service, and for detectives with at least three years of service.

Union members will also contribute more towards their health insurance premiums. Starting in 2013, members will contribute 7 percent for individual coverage and 18 percent for family coverage. That number will increase to 10 percent for individual coverage and 20 percent for family coverage effective Jan. 1, 2014. Copays for doctor visits will also increase to $25 out-of-pocket, and $100 for emergency room visits.

Town officials said the changes made in the three-year contract will save the town about $80,000.

Other changes include a payment in lieu of health insurance of $2,000 to $3,000 for those who refuse the town’s health insurance to be on a spouse’s plan. Officers and detectives may now also bank up to 40 hours worth of overtime to use how they wish, instead of getting paid for it, while the amount of personal days will increase from four to five.

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