Seattle Police Union Overwhelmingly Approves Contract With City; Includes Raises, Accountability Reforms

Seattle police

After years of protracted negotiations, Seattle’s rank-and-file police union has overwhelmingly voted to ratify a collective-bargaining contract with the city that includes long-delayed pay raises while imposing sweeping accountability reforms.

The outcome of mail balloting was announced Thursday by the Seattle Police Officers’ Guild, which represents more than 1,300 officers and sergeants.

Guild President Kevin Stuckey said in a statement that guild members, in 1,013 of 1,059 returned ballots, voted to accept the contract offer.

The contract is now subject to approval by the City Council.

The vote represents a major step in the city’s police-reform process, boosting Mayor Jenny Durkan, who took office in January, and new Police Chief Carmen Best, who took an active role in the talks,  as the city seeks to end federal oversight by the end of 2019.

“The contract … illustrates, once again, that SPOG is willing to accept changes to the accountability system as long as that change is achieved at the bargaining table and both sides bargain in good faith,” guild Vice President Sgt. Rich O’Neill, the union’s chief negotiator,  said in a statement.

The two sides reached a tentative agreement last month on a six-year contract, retroactive to 2015. The last contract expired at the end of 2014.

Durkan, in an interview, said it was a tribute to officers that, even while working without a new contract,  they kept the city safe and worked to bring the city in compliance with federal requirements.

“Cops are some of our most important workers,” she said.

Stuckey said the contract contains “significant wage increases,” but he didn’t provide details. Durkan said the wage figures are within parameters of her 2019 and 2020 budget she will unveil next week.