The Boston Police Patrolmen’s Association approved a new contract agreement with the city on Monday, clearing the way for the matter to head to the City Council, which will vote up or down on funding it.
The membership of the politically powerful labor group ratified the pact, with a union spokesperson saying it was approved “overwhelmingly” although exact vote counts were not immediately available.
The tentative 5-year agreement between the city’s largest police union and Mayor Michelle Wu’s administration was announced on Friday. Wu’s office has yet to publicly release the contract.
Wu is expected to host a City Hall news conference on the contract Tuesday morning. In a press advisory released Monday evening, Wu’s office said “The new contract includes cost of living adjustments and significant reforms in discipline, paid details, medical leave, union release, officer retention, and educational incentives.”
However, it provided no specifics on Monday.
It’s unclear whether Wu has secured any major reforms under the tentative agreement. Wu, a progressive Democrat from Roslindale, was swept into office in 2021 promising to do what no Boston mayor has done in decades: force major reforms upon the change-resistant, scandal-scarred Police Department, and make them permanent through binding union contracts.
Wu has said the city won’t sign a contract that doesn’t include “significant reform.” The Wu administration and the patrolmen’s association, which has about 1,600 members, had been in arbitration over the contract. If she achieves her desired policy changes through the contract process, it would represent a major victory for Wu.
A simple majority of the 13-member council must approve funding the agreement for it to be adopted.
The last contract with the patrolmen’s union expired in June 2020, before Wu took office. And union contract negotiations, particularly in Boston, can be prolonged affairs.
Late last year, the police union filed a request for arbitration with the state Joint Labor-Management Committee, which is designed specifically to help municipalities come to terms with their police officers and firefighters or to reach agreement on procedures to resolve their disputes. That committee accepted the case, determining that the sides were at an impasse.
When Wu took office in November 2021, dozens of municipal unions were without a contract. The city has since reached agreements with the majority of that group. However, contract talks are ongoing with the other three police unions in Boston, according to Wu’s office.
Earlier this year, Lou Mandarini, the mayor’s senior adviser for labor policy, said the Wu administration wants to overhaul the disciplinary system, which at times has seen officers rehired after being fired for allegations of egregious misconduct. He said it also wants to change injury leave to ensure officers who are out can return to work faster; alter the system of police details, where officers work extra hours for an array of assignments, including on construction sites and for utility work; reduce union release times, where labor representatives are paid by the city when attending union meetings, hearings, and events; and centralize the department’s booking operations under one division.
During the summer, Larry Calderone, the union’s president, said he was pushing for fair wage increases, eliminating the city residency requirement for officers, improving the educational stipend system for police, and consideration of officers working a schedule that would include four, 10-hour days. He emphasized the city will have to pay up if changes are going to happen.