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City Council OKs Shorter Workweek, Higher Pay for Police in Bid to Reduce Overtime

A new agreement narrowly approved Monday by the Fairbanks City Council will reduce overtime and give the city’s police officers and dispatchers a break on health insurance costs.

The councilvoted 4-3 to ratify a labor agreement for about 60 members of the Public Safety Employees Association who work for Fairbanks police. The agreement will serve as the basis of a new three-year contract for the city’s PSEA members, who’ve been working without a new contract for more than eight months.  

Mayor JohnEberhart’s chief of staff Jim Williams says a provision in the agreement shortens the workweek from 40 to 36 hours, and boosts wages, will yield some savings for the department.

“We did a 10 percent reduction in work hours, and an increase of 10 percent in wages,” Williams said.

City officials estimate the wage hike, along with a $250 monthly increase in the city’s contribution to each worker’s health-insurance plan, will cost some $646,000 over three years.

Williams says the city should recoup about $116,000 in savings through another provision that authorizes officers on some shifts to work up to 12 hours without claiming overtime.

“Because we extended our work hours to 12 hours, and we changed the rules on when overtime kicks in, we’re hoping there will be less overtime,” he said.

The agreement also calls a one-time payout of $1,750 per worker, which will cost an estimated $119,000.  

And it gives an increase in earned leave to PSEA members who’ve worked more than 10 years from 240 to 300 hours per year.

Council members Bernard Gatewood, Lloyd Hilling and Perry Walley voted against the agreement.

Tim has worked in the news business for over three decades, mainly as a newspaper reporter and editor in southern Arizona. Tim first came to Alaska with his family in 1967, and grew up in Delta Junction before emigrating to the Lower 48 in 1977 to get a college education and see the world.