Hoboken police supervisors won a 5% annual raise for three consecutive years Wednesday when the City Council approved their first new union contract in nearly seven years.
The total increase in pay for the 45 superior officers amounts to about $1 million, said city Business Administrator Jason Freeman, but the money won’t be paid out until 2022. Freeman said the agreement provides the officers with security and the city with flexibility to deal with immediate budget challenges.
The Hoboken Superior Officers Association’s previous contract expired nearly three years ago. The new agreement will last until 2022 but is retroactive to January 2018.
The minimum salaries for captains are $162,833, while those for lieutenants and sergeants are $134,557 and $118,399, respectively.
Lt. Edmond Drishti, president of the union, said the new agreement demonstrates that Mayor Ravi Bhalla and his administration value police and continue to invest in the department.
“While there exists a movement in and around the country asking that we ‘defund the police,’ Mayor Bhalla and the Hoboken City Council continue to stand in support of our police,” he said in a text message.
The 5% raises cover 2018, 2019 and 2020, while the two remaining years of the agreement will not include additional raises. The officers won’t see a change in their paychecks or the retro pay until 2022, Freeman said.
The Hoboken City Council approved the terms of the new agreement Wednesday, with eight ‘yes’ votes and Vice Council President Vanessa Falco abstaining.
Without these pay increases, Hoboken superior officers’ salaries were in the lower range of those offered in departments countywide, Drishti said.
There was also a two-tiered pay scale, which caused retention challenges, he said.
“A patrolman with longevity could make more than a newly promoted sergeant,” Drishti said. “This caused a problem because we were then having patrolmen that were looking to leave … to other departments.”
The new agreement creates a uniform pay scale for each rank. It also broadens a stipend for college graduates, making anyone with a college degree eligible for the bonus, not just those with criminal justice degrees.
The agreement keeps the union members on their current health insurance plan, which is something the union wanted, Drishti said. Leaders of other city unions have advocated for switching to the state’s health insurance plan, arguing it is one way to save the city money and avoid layoffs.
“This contract not only provides our frontline public safety officers with a fair and just contract that appropriately compensates them for their efforts on behalf of our residents,” city spokesman Vijay Chaudhuri said in a statement, “but also protects the interests of Hoboken taxpayers and provides the City much needed financial flexibility, in a year where the City’s finances were hard hit by the COVID-19 health crisis.”