By DAVE COLLINS, Associated Press
HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) _ A contract giving state police captains and lieutenants pay raises of up to 56 percent has been quietly approved after state lawmakers let the deal take effect without votes in either the House or Senate.
The 4 1/2-year contract took effect on Friday because the House and Senate failed to vote on the deal within 30 days of its submission to the legislature, under a process allowed by state law for all state labor contracts.
State officials say they support the contract because the captains and lieutenants hadn’t had a raise since 2008 and make less money than many of the troopers they supervise.
A spokesman for Gov. Dannel P. Malloy, David Bednarz, wrote in an email to The Associated Press that state law didn’t require the contract to go through the governor’s desk, but the governor supports it.
“From a law enforcement perspective it is important to retain the necessary staff who have the knowledge and experience in filling those necessary positions,” Bednarz wrote.
The new contract will increase the range of captains’ pay to $128,000 to $136,000 a year, up from about $82,000 to $105,000. Lieutenants will make $113,600 to $121,600 a year, up from about $73,000 to $93,000. The pay changes are retroactive to Jan. 1.
State salary data show some state police sergeants make more than $200,000 a year with overtime, although most earn less than $140,000. Some troopers make more than $190,000 a year, but most take home less than $100,000.
The raises for the eight captain positions and 31 lieutenant jobs will cost the state an extra $458,000 this fiscal year and more than $1 million in the year beginning July 1. The extra money will come from an account the state has set aside for collective bargaining costs that totals $145 million this year.
But the captains and lieutenants will lose annual meal allowances and retention stipends that add up to more than $9,000 per employee a year, which will save the state about $390,000 a year. The state, however, will increase longevity payments to the supervisors by a total of more than $59,000 a year, when many other state employees lost longevity payments in contract givebacks in recent years.
Lt. Edward Gould, president of the union for the captains and lieutenants and commander of the Colchester barracks, didn’t return messages seeking comment.
Sgt. Andrew Matthews, president of the state police union for troopers and sergeants, believes his superiors deserve the raises, which he said bring their salaries in line with state police supervisors in other states.
“You can be a lieutenant making less than a sergeant, and that’s unacceptable,” Matthews said. “What that’s done is discourage people from taking the promotional exam over the years. Good leadership is critical to the success of the department.”
The contract did go through the legislature’s Appropriations Committee. House members voted 40-1 in favor, while senators voted 8-0. Hartford Rep. Marie Lopez Kirkley-Bey, the only lawmaker to vote against the contract, didn’t return messages Monday.
The lieutenants and captains voted to unionize in 2006, but the administration of then-Gov. M. Jodi Rell, a Republican, claimed they weren’t eligible to join a union because they were managers. But the State Labor Board ruled the captains and lieutenants were not managerial employees as defined by state law. Rell’s administration appealed to the state Supreme Court, which sent the case back to the Labor Board.
The Labor Board reaffirmed the right of the captains and lieutenants to unionize in January 2011 when Malloy took office. Malloy’s administration then began contract negotiations, and the captains and lieutenants ratified the deal last month.
House Speaker Christopher Donovan, D-Meriden, said the legislature doesn’t usually get involved in contracts negotiated by state employees and the administration.
“We weren’t part of the negotiations, and this is an agreement between the two parties,” Donovan said.
Associated Press writer Susan Haigh contributed to this report.
(Copyright 2012 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)