San Rafael police, firefighters get wage boost

The city of San Rafael has approved three-year contracts with labor unions representing city police officers and firefighters.

The City Council cleared the contracts with the San Rafael Police Association and the San Rafael Firefighter’s Association IAFF Local 1775 last week. The police association represents the equivalent of 86 full-time  employees, including officers and administrative staff, whereas the firefighters’ association represents 67 employees.

Each contract is for a base wage increase of 3.5% for the first year and 4% for the second and third years, said Sylvia Gonzalez-Shelton, the city’s personnel manager.

Officer Zachary Brickell, president of the police union, said the police department had fallen behind other comparable agencies in terms of pay, which affects recruitment and retention.

“This contract did a great job of bringing those work groups, which were below, up to the level of our comparable agencies,” he said. “We can’t thank the city of San Rafael’s representative enough for making this such a smooth process and for helping the San Rafael Police Department remain competitive in recruitment and retention.”

Representatives of the fire association declined to comment.

The contracts, approved through two separate agreement, take effect July 1 and last through June 30, 2024. Each contract replaces existing contracts that were set to expire in June 2020, but were continued through a one-year extension last year.

The existing annual salary and benefit cost to the city for the police department’s 86 staffers is $17.5 million. With the annual increases, that is expected to amount to a $3.6 million rise in costs over the three-year contract. Similarly, the cost for the fire department’s 67 employees equals $17.2 million. That will be increased by about $3.6 million over the three years.

The contracts were approved in separate unanimous votes at the council’s June 21 meeting.

“Labor negotiations really involve a lot trust and conversation,” Mayor Kate Colin said at the meeting. “And I’m so appreciative of SRPA for showing up and having the conversations and our staff and our negotiators.”

“I just want to thank the firefighters association for participating in this process, for bringing it to such a fruitful resolution for both parties, and more importantly for our community,” Vice Mayor Maribeth Bushey said.

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