The results of salary negotiations between University Police and USF administrators Monday marked the first sign of progress after a long series of impasses.
Sergeant Mike Klingebiel, who represented UP at the session, said Tuesday’s meeting – which he thought was the longest bargaining session held between UP and the University – wholeheartedly aimed to address the pay issues that bog down UP, including the first-ever base salary increase proposed in recent talks.
As it now stands, UP has trouble recruiting and retaining officers because its base pay is significantly less than other local law enforcement agencies, which compete with UP for staffers.
Though funded for 49 officers, UP has only 41 on staff, which is largely attributed to the comparatively meager pay they offer.
This means that there are periods during which the University has as few as four officers patrolling the campus.
Such a set-up is inexcusable, considering that USF is situated near high-risk neighborhoods, the crime of which occasionally spills over into USF, explaining why most on-campus arrests do not involve students.
The University’s new offer, which promises to boost salaries, may effectively address these underlying issues. More pay means more officers staying for longer, so the reasoning goes, and it’s not all together absurd to recognize truth in such a correlation.
Consider what USF is now proposing and you may see why it could attract and maintain new hires and veterans.
Sandy Lovins, chief negotiator for USF, explained that officers who have worked for UP for less than two years would receive a 1.5 percent adjustment under the plan, meaning their base salary will go up 1.5 percent.
Officers with more than two but less than five years of service would get a 2 percent base-pay increase, while officers with more than five but less than ten years would get a 2.5 percent adjustment. Officers with more than ten years of experience would get 3 percent.
Considering that UP has now been offered base-pay increases – in the midst of a State University System budget crunch – the officers should consider the proposal thoroughly before next Monday’s negotiation meeting.
If UP were to accept this proposal, it probably wouldn’t be that bad of an idea (this seems weak), as the new officers likely to come with an upswing in salary can relieve stressed officers and give the force the refreshing boost of support that it deserves and needs.