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UP, USF still at odds

Another round of salary negotiations between University Police and administrators ended in a stalemate Monday, as the two sides again disagreed with a pay plan that ties mandatory pay bumps for officers to their time on the force.

Frustrated by a bargaining process that has dragged on since Feb. 1, officers may begin informational pickets and other measures to plead their case for better pay with the public, said UP lead negotiator Stephanie Crookston after the meeting.

“I would say we’re a step closer to that,” Crookston said. “We’re discussing it not only with the membership in UP, but also with the larger chapter of the Police Benevolent Association.”

During the meeting, UP officials and administrators were again at odds over the police force’s contention that the University has ignored recruitment and retention in its contract proposals.

“The issue isn’t about more money,” Crookston said. “The issue is that we’re trying to recruit more officers, not only for our safety – so we can go home to our families – but for the safety of the community.”

Ken Gullette, director of Media Relations, said the failure to reach an agreement is upsetting for the administration as well.

“It’s emotional on both sides,” Gullette said. “The truth is that we think the world of the police and we just want it to end.”

Other negotiators declined comment, citing a policy by USF administration to speak about ongoing negotiations only during bargaining sessions.

UP opened Monday’s negotiations with a proposed increase in the $2,500 bonus offered by administrators in January’s bargaining session. UP instead asked for a $5,000 bonus for officers who have been with UP for five or more years, Crookston said.

UP also proposed a staggered plan that would allow for raises in the second and third years of the proposed three-year contract.

In its counter offer, USF vetoed the $5,000 bonus and instead lessened the criteria for officers to receive the $2,500 bonus.

Originally, USF said officers would be disqualified from the bonus if they had received one written reprimand, but on Tuesday they increased it to two written reprimands.

The counter-offer also included lump-sum bonuses of $1,000 based on evaluations of officers with five or more years of experience who receive ‘exemplary marks’ two years in a row, Crookston said.

Sandy Lovins, the University’s chief negotiator, proposed an increase in the base salary for experienced officers as a means to address recruitment. The increase would be a “range from $35,000-$38,000,” Crookston said.

UP has been without a contract since June 30, 2007. Another round of negotiations is being scheduled.

“It’s apparent that the administration does not care about what the faculty, students and parents are saying,” Crookston said. “They want a fully funded police agency.”

Christine Gibson can be reached at (813) 974-6299 or