Article Last Updated: Wednesday, May 07, 2003 - 6:51:28 AM EST

Bridgeport police union OKs 3-year deal
By AARON LEO aleo@ctpost.com

BRIDGEPORT

The city police union Tuesday accepted a three-year contract offer that would raise officers' salaries by 2 percent immediately and again in 2003-04.

The city's contract with the police union Local 1159 expired June 30, 2001.

Union members approved the contract in a 159-to-24 vote, said Sgt. Donald Jacques, the union's president. There are 453 uniformed union members.

"I'm glad," Jacques said of the decision. "Now it's time for us to move on." He added that he hoped more members would vote.

The tentative agreement would give a retroactive 2 percent raise for the 2001-02 fiscal year, no raises for 2002-03 and another 2 percent in 2003-04, according to Jacques.

A patrol officer would earn about $900 more per year with a 2 percent raise, Jacques said.

Each officer's annual uniform allowance will also increase from $775 to $925 over the three years, he said.

The union accepted the zero pay increase this fiscal year in exchange for the city removing changes to the department's health benefits, Jacques said.

"We realize what the city's going through," with financial problems, he added.

The contract dispute was headed for arbitration when Mayor John M. Fabrizi was sworn in April 8, replacing Joseph P. Ganim.

Talks had failed and the union had rejected two offers under Ganim's administration. Ganim resigned after being convicted of numerous bribery and racketeering charges.

Fabrizi praised Jacques and the union's executive board, who "burned the midnight oil" for three weeks to broker the agreement.

"We really talked and sat down and they believed and I believed and that's why we got where we got," Fabrizi said.

"They bit the bullet - no pun intended - as best as possible and we came as far as we could come," he added.

The agreement will "put some money in the pockets of people who represent us and protect us every day," Fabrizi said.

The City Council must next approve the agreement, which it could do as early as July's meeting, Fabrizi said.

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