As you know, the 5th floor has been absolutely incapable of finding enough recruits to field 1,100 officers. 1,100 is Marty's magic number yet despite years of promises and claims, even APD is admitting that they're steadily losing officers not gaining them by admitting that as of yesterday, they had just 969 officers. We'd wager that even that number includes everyone with a badge and a pulse and a few that have neither... but we digress.
According to our Eyes (and the Journal for that matter) the contract appears to be heavily front-end loaded - designed to specifically attract new recruits. The big jump in pay is targeted a new officers who will receive almost a 22% pay increase. More experienced and higher ranking officers receive a substantially smaller "raise."
You see the contract - which no one seems to have an actual copy of - gets rid of longevity pay. As a consequence, even though sergeants and lieutenants may be getting an hourly raise of 12.5% and 11.6% respectively, with the loss of longevity pay senior sergeants would receive almost nothing and some lieutenants actually lose money.
(Sidebar)Like a lot of things associated with the Chavez administration, this contract appears to offer more enticement than benefit. The Almighty Alcalde was quoted in the Journal saying "[t]his is the type of raise you give when you are rolling in the dough, not when you are hurting for money." According to our Eyes behind the badge, there's as much show as there is substance to this contract that creates an enticement for new officers while simultaneously encouraging more experienced officers to leave.
We find it ironic that the new APD contract gets rid of the very thing that AFD has just fought for and received - longevity pay. Not everyone will achieve rank, nor should they and some simply don't want to climb up the ladder. The question is should they be rewarded for their long service despite choosing to remain a Patrolman First Class or should they be penalized for choosing to continue to work in the demanding field of everyday police work?
(Sidebar)One other little problem we see here and we alluded to it earlier... no one seems to have a copy of the contract. Our Eyes tell us that there was a motion at the APOA meeting last night to delay today's vote so that the rank and file would have time to get a copy of the contract that they are being asked to accept. They were told by union President Ron Olivas after consultation with the union attorney that last night's meeting didn't constitute a regular union meeting and therefore no motions could be accepted from the floor.
Perhaps getting rid of more experienced officers is part of the idea here. New recruits are less likely to give the 5th floor a hard time where long-time APD officers can still remember what things were like before the current regime.
What's strange here is that wouldn't the union be better representing its members by making sure that the contract was available and fully understood by the membership? We'd think that a more measured approach would benefit the union leadership and the members unless of course, there's something more going on here.
Rumors are already circulating that there's a deal in place to reward union President Ron Olivas with a city job - much like former APOA President Lawrence Torres. Justified or not, these types of rumors always get started when the membership feels like a contract is being rammed down their throats.
In the end, members of the APOA are voting on a contract that substantially changes the way that they are paid and how much without having the opportunity to personally review the contract themselves. P.T. Barnum once said that "there was a sucker born every minute," and it may be that both the union and the city are hoping those suckers are wearing the uniform of the Albuquerque Police Department.
Ask any lawyer whether you should sign a contract without first reading and understanding its terms. Ask yourself if you would vote for a candidate without knowing their names. Entering into an employment contract without having your very own copy of the agreement before voting on its ratification seems to us like simple common sense. Otherwise you'll be proving P.T. Barnum's point.