Georgetown University’s Newspaper of Record since 1920

The Hoya

Georgetown University’s Newspaper of Record since 1920

The Hoya

Georgetown University’s Newspaper of Record since 1920

The Hoya

University Increases Wages for Officers

The university agreed yesterday to grant Department of Public Safety officers a $2.50 per-hour wage increase by August, following two months of negotiations for a renewed contract between the two parties.

Officers will receive a $1.25 raise retroactive to Feb. 1 and a subsequent $1.25 raise in August with the new contract, said Victor Johnson, a union representative for Allied International Union, which represents the officers. Officers will then receive a 4 percent additional raise by the end of 2008, bringing the starting salary for DPS officers to $15.60.

Under the terms of the university’s previous contract with DPS, which expired on Jan. 31, officers made a median salary of $13.33, placing them below officers at most local universities. The department’s attrition rate has been high in recent years, as more than half of the officers have been serving for less than 15 months.

Negotiations for a new contract have taken longer than expected after the officers were not satisfied with proposed raises. Yesterday’s meeting marked the sixth time that the two parties formally met.

Johnson said that, in an effort to lower the attrition rate, DPS officers who remain on the payroll until February 2009 will also receive a bonus of 2 percent of their annual salary at that time.

In addition, he added that officers working the night shift will now receive an extra $1.05 per hour – $0.25 more than called for in the previous contract – and wages will double for officers who come to work during emergency weather situations.

The new contract, which will be drafted within the next month, must be accepted by a majority of the DPS officers before it can be ratified, according to Victor Johnson, a union representative and DPS communications officer.

Johnson said that although the union initially sought a $3 per-hour increase, it is satisfied with the new agreement.

“We were able to compromise on that,” he said. “The union is happy with the contract and happy that it can get comparative with other universities.”

Although the union also sought to negotiate paid sick days for the officers, the agreement does not contain such a provision. Laura Bryant, director of Hoya staffing in the human resources department, said that no university employees receive paid sick days.

“Although some organizations do provide separate sick leave to their employees, a bank of paid leave time for everything from personal days to sick days to vacation days appears to be a common trend in today’s job market,” Bryant said.

Johnson said that the union suspected that negotiations would extend longer than normal because of its wage and equipment demands.

“We were asking for a lot more than we normally do,” he said. “We knew we would have to negotiate longer to get the university to agree to what we asked.”

Alan Compagnon, the lawyer for AIU who represented DPS in the negotiations, said that the university and the union will sign a memorandum of agreement either today or early next week.

DPS Director Darryl Harrison said that the new agreement will allow his department to continue to recruit and retain qualified officers.

“I am extremely pleased that we have come to an agreement,” he said. “The basic agreement recognizes the importance of DPS officers and the university’s commitment to ensure a safe and secure environment for our students, especially, and our faculty and staff.”

University spokesperson Julie Bataille said that the negotiations reflect the importance of the officers’ work.

“We . hope that formal ratification of a contract will take place in the near future,” she said.

The university and the union had previously agreed to form a committee 60 days after the contract is ratified to discuss the possibility of providing DPS officers with more equipment. Johnson said that DPS is looking to receive batons, mace and additional safety vests.

He said that he does not expect the committee to find a problem with granting DPS the extra equipment. “I think the university is receptive to that,” he said.

The Georgetown Solidarity Committee voiced its support for the union during a rally in Red Square on Tuesday that culminated in over two dozen of the attendees marching to University President John J. DeGioia’s office, where they left a petition.

Sarah Heydemann (COL ’09), a GSC member, said that the group is satisfied with the new contract but would have preferred to see the officers receive paid sick days.

“We’re always looking to see the university do better,” she said. “In this case, it is the best they have ever given and clearly better than the DPS officers had before. But paid sick days are still important.”

Harrison said that he appreciated the student support for the officers.

“The students appeared to be very motivated,” he said. “I was gratified to see the student support that my officers are receiving.”

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