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Politics and Government

Syracuse police union reaches 5-year contract with city

Ken Hawkins

Syracuse police officers have reached a new labor contract with the city, more than three years after the old one expired.

It's not uncommon for police union contracts to lapse, but this one stretched on for a while, mostly over health care costs and coverage.

The new contract is for five years, but it applies retroactively to when the old one expired at the end of 2010. The 428 Syracuse police officers will have to pay about twice as much for health insurance, but will get two percent raises for 2013, 2014 and 2015.

"I don’t think either side is ecstatic. We’ve had better contracts, we’ve had worse contracts," said Jeff Piedmonte, president of the Police Benevolent Association, the officer's union. "I think it’s a fair contract on both sides; it puts it behind us."

Both sides were eager to negotiate and avoid arbitration, he said.

"We didn't think it would be beneficial," Piedmonte added.

It's the first contract the union has negotiated with Mayor Stephanie Miner, a former labor lawyer. The deal reflects the financial difficulties the city is facing, she said in a statement.

This contract demonstrates that everyone needs to do their part to help address the fiscal crisis affecting the City of Syracuse. We will only put the City on a better financial footing when we are able to bring labor and management to the table to discuss and address the high costs of employee benefits.

Having a five year deal in place with allow for some "breathing room" before talks begin again next summer, Piedmonte said.

Retiree health benefits were a major sticking point in these talks, he said, and they will continue to be.