Mpls. Police Union OKs Tentative Contract for Historic 21.7% Pay Raise

June 4, 2024
The agreement approved by the Minneapolis police union reportedly gives rank-and-file officers a 5.5% pay bump starting July 1, a 2.5% raise on Jan. 1, 2025 and another 3.5% jump next summer.

The Minneapolis police union voted to approve a historic 21.7% raise late Monday night, overwhelmingly supporting a tentative labor contract reached after eight months of public and closed-door negotiations and state mediation.

The agreement reportedly secures rank-and-file officers a 5.5% pay bump starting July 1, a 2.5% raise on Jan. 1, 2025 and another 3.5% jump next summer, according to department sources. It also includes pro-rated backpay.

Members of the Police Officers Federation of Minneapolis ratified the tentative agreement 301 to 63 — less than a week after a gunman shot and killed Minneapolis police officer Jamal Mitchell, the first such line-of-duty death the department has seen in over two decades.

That accord still requires sign off by from the full City Council, which could come as soon as next Thursday. Such approval is not guaranteed, given that the body's progressive wing has signaled a desire that future contracts include "deep, transformational reforms."

MPD's contract gained new scrutiny in recent years following a series of high-profile police killings, including George Floyd's murder in 2020. In the aftermath, elected officials cited the police contract as an obstacle to changing disciplinary processes.

It's not immediately clear whether this tentative version includes any substantial changes beyond higher base pay. Minneapolis' current police labor agreement was adopted in March 2022 after state mediation, and it expired Dec. 31 of that year.

Last week, Mayor Jacob Frey lauded the agreement as a roadmap to "advance critical reform work and make significant progress on competitive pay for Minneapolis officers and recruits."

The full details are expected to be made public later Tuesday afternoon.

The police union has long sought double-digit pay raises for its rank-and-file officers. It argued last fall that wages have not kept pace with many suburban law enforcement agencies, which are competing for the same limited pool of candidates.

But city leaders balked at the union's request for a one-year 13.25% raise, saying it could not manage the $11 million price tag.

In February, Federation president Sgt. Sherral Schmidt pointed out that City Council members proudly joined the picket lines for Minneapolis Public Works employees, who secured a historic a wage increase of nearly 30% over the next three years. She called on Mayor Jacob Frey to ensure that her unit received an equitable wage package.

Chief Brian O'Hara released an internal video in April alerting his staff that the city was on the verge of making a deal with the union. Working under an expired contract strains morale, he acknowledged, and hinders the department's ability to recruit and retain good cops.

O'Hara emphasized that the force is entitled to a labor agreement that "clearly recognizes the demands, the dangers and the unparalleled level of scrutiny" they are under.

"At a minimum, you deserve to be among the highest paid police officers in this state. Period," O'Hara said in the 2 ½-minute video, obtained by the Star Tribune. He also noted that MPD's ranks continue to dwindle through attrition. This year, more than 140 officers are eligible to retire.

That's roughly one-quarter of MPD's remaining police force.

"Any delay in this process will be devastating," O'Hara said, urging sworn personnel to approve the contract once an agreement had been reached through mediation.

"It is not lost on me that all of you stayed with this department and you did not turn your backs on the people of this city. If you vote to approve this contract, I guarantee you, I will do everything in my power to ensure that this city does not turn its back on you."

However, veteran officers may not feel the deal goes far enough. One lieutenant distributed elastic bracelets to all five police precincts last fall with what has become a growing manta inside the department: "28 or arbitrate" — a call demanding a 28% wage increase.

Local police watchdogs are now calling on their City Council members to reject the tentative agreement, saying that a second contract without tangible accountability measures in the wake of Floyd's killing equates a slap in the face.

Last month, as the federation and city labor negotiating team met for one of their final bargaining sessions, 13 activists marched through the state Bureau of Mediation Services (BMS) headquarters in St. Paul with bullhorns shouting: "No raises without reforms!"

Star Tribune staff writer Dave Orrick contributed to this story.

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