Published in the August 11, 2016 edition


NORTH READING — The Selectmen and North Reading Police Union, MCOP Local 456, which represents patrolmen and sergeants, came to terms on a new contract last week.

Town Administrator Michael Gilleberto said the contract is a one–year and three–year agreement covering fiscal years 2016–2019. The Selectmen voted unanimously to approve the one–year and three–year contracts. MCOP Local 456 replaced Teamsters Local 25 as the North Reading police union bargaining agent last summer.

Gilleberto said the contract includes several reforms as well wage increases.

“The agreement calls for 1 percent cost of living wage increases each year,” said Gilleberto in an e-mail to the Transcript. “In exchange for the reforms in this agreement, there are additional wage increases as follows: 3 percent in FY 2016 and 2017, 2 percent in FY’18 and 1 percent in FY’19.”

Selectman Mike Prisco, who participated in the contract negotiations along with Gilleberto, Selectman Stephen O’Leary and town counsel, said the negotiating team looked at the salaries of area police departments during contract negotiations with the North Reading Police Union. He said the salaries for North Reading police officers are “still right in the middle.”

“They could have fought harder to be at the top but we found some middle ground,” said Prisco.

As a result of the pact, Gilleberto said “the Board of Selectmen will be proposing a warrant article for the October Town Meeting to rescind Civil Service for new employees and promotions in the North Reading Police Department.”

“If approved at Town Meeting, a home rule petition would be filed with the State Legislature to finalize this action,” said Gilleberto. The changes are being brought forward by agreement of both the Police Lieutenants’ and Patrolmen/Sergeants’ unions.

Gilleberto told the Transcript there are “associated language changes in this agreement, including the implementation of a new hiring and promotional procedure in place of Civil Service.”

According to Gilleberto, the pact “calls for reductions in the vacation time structure for new employees.” He said the agreement eliminates compensatory time off for holidays, which he said will reduce overtime.

In order to reduce future liabilities, Gilleberto said the contract “calls for a reduction in the end-of-career sick leave buyback and the buyout of some sick time at a lower rate today then it would be called for in the future.”

Gilleberto also noted “the agreement calls for the establishment of an education incentive program that is based on flat rates,” which would increase “after an employee reaches eight years of service.”

O’Leary said the educational incentives included in the contract will benefit both the town and police department.

“I don’t think anybody would disagree that a well educated police force is essential,” said O’Leary.

Additionally, Gilleberto said the pact contains “some administrative shift schedules and time off policies.”

O’Leary said thanked the North Reading Police Union for their cooperation during contract negotiations.”

“We believe the changes will benefit police department employees and the town,” said O’Leary.

Prisco noted this was the first time the town has negotiated with the police department’s new union.

“It was a great experience,” said Prisco. “This is a complex CBA (collective bargaining agreement) that we finalized, but there are a lot of changes for the future. When you look at it from a big picture perspective, this is something that puts the town in a very good position. It allows our chief (Michael Murphy) to be able manage his department, and it allows his staff to stay educated and gives them opportunities for promotion. There are positives all the way around. I can’t thank the union members enough.”

Gillberto agreed.

“I would like to recognize the professionalism of our police officers at the bargaining table,” said Gilleberto. “I would like to recognize and thank the police chief for his insight and participation in collective bargaining as well as Finance Director Elizabeth Rourke for her assistance.”

Selectmen Chairman Bob Mauceri thanked Gilleberto, Prisco and O’Leary for their hard work during the contract negotiations.

“This is what the board set out for in the beginning and we have achieved those goals,” said Mauceri. “In this day and age, we need well educated and well trained police officers.”