Contract Negotiations End In City’s Favor

SIOUX FALLS, S. D. – Sioux Falls city council has made the final call on how much money police officers will make this year.

The decision comes after a months-long contract battle between the city and police union.

It was standing room only Tuesday night, and the majority of the people who attended did not like the council’s decision.

Many people walked out of the meeting after hearing the union was not going to get the 3 percent increase in pay they wanted.

Council members approved a 1.5 percent raise, which was the city’s final offer.

It takes effect next month.

Councilor Christine Erickson tried to make an amendment tonight to retroactively pay officers the 1.5 percent raise for this month and January as well.

But that was denied with a 5 to 4 vote, because the mayor split the tie vote.

“Although our work expectations are vast and enormous, we are willing to accept those responsibilities, but please don’t forget we are also people just like you,” said the police union representative Tom Schmidt. “Like everyone else, we would simply like to feel valued by our employee, which unfortunately is not how we feel at this point in the process.”

The councilors who voted against retroactive pay say they wanted the new contract to go into effect a month ago before the first pay period of the year.

But negotiations continued past that.

“This has to be one of the worst votes for us to be involved with,” said councilor Michelle Erpenbach. “These truly are the people that protect and serve us and I don’t want anything to happen tonight to take away from that feeling of respect and support that we have for the police department, the officers and the sergeants.

The city says the reason why they weren’t able to give the union officers a 3 percent increase in pay was because they couldn’t afford it.

They say that’s because of the first penny sales tax not growing as much as they expected and because of the city’s 25 percent reserve fund policy.

The vote was 6 to 2 approving the 1.5 percent raise.

Before tonight, the South Dakota Department of Labor had to be brought into negotiations, since the city and police union could not agree on a contract.

On January 27th the department of labor decided to side with the City.

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