Officers standing outside Portland City Hall on October 12, 2016.
Officers standing outside Portland City Hall on October 12, 2016. Doug Brown

On Thursday afternoon, Portland City Council will hear testimony on a proposed labor contract between the city and the Portland Police Association (PPA), the union representing rank-and-file Portland officers.

The draft contract itself contains several victories for the city, including a clear discipline guide for officers who err, an agreement to work in collaboration with the city's Portland Street Response program, and limitations to which type of retired officers can be hired back to help fill staffing gaps within the Portland Police Bureau (PPB). But, as with any labor contract negotiation, a win for one side means the other side gained something in return. For Portland, that means handing over a hefty wad of cash to cover salary hikes and financial incentives for those represented by the PPA.

The agreement will cost the city $56 million over the course of the four-year contract. It's unfortunately hard to compare that number to past contract agreements, since it includes the cost-of-living raises for officers over four years—which hasn't been calculated into past union contracts. If those raises are taken out of the total, however, this contract costs $24.3 million. The last time City Council passed a contract with the PPA in 2017, the price tag without cost-of-living-adjustments came to $16.4 million. That means the current contract is 48 percent more expensive than it was in 2017.

This funding surge is based on several factors, most of them centering on preventing police officers from quitting or retiring.

One of the most costly programs promises $5,000 retention payments to all officers on staff after the contract is finalized. According to the city's calculations, that will cost $4,770,000, suggesting that 954 officers will be receiving that one-time payment. At the moment, PPB only has 791 officers on staff (yet it budgeted to have 954 officers on staff by 2022 in its 2020 budget). It's not clear what would happen to those excess payments allotted for a larger police force.

The contract also includes a second one-time retention payment of $2,000 for all officers come January 2024, which would cost $2,176,000. That breakdown means the city expects to have 1,088 officers on staff at that point—which would be a 37 percent increase from the current staffing numbers in two years.

City lawyers say this staffing increase wasn't bargained on during contract negotiations, but is simply based on estimations included in 2020 budget.

The contract also includes $3,000 one-time payments for Public Safety Support Specialists (PS3s), which are non-sworn PPB employees who help file reports and take calls, and are represented by the PPA. With the cost of $36,000, that means the funds will account for 12 PS3 employees.

Other financial boosts come in the form of incentives. For instance, the contract offers employees who are multilingual a $1 per hour raise, provides a 2 percent raise to all PPA members with a bachelor's degree, and promises a 5 percent wage increase for any PPA member with a master's degree. Officers are also granted between a 2 to 4 percent raise for participating in advanced training programs led by the state's Department of Public Safety Standards and Training (DPSST).

The contract also includes a 2 percent raise for all officers who complete the mandatory Crisis Intervention Training (CIT) program. Since all officers are required to take 40 hours of CIT, this means that it's a 2 percent raise across the board for all PPB officers.

All of these incentives combined will cost a total of $14,886,219, according to the city.

According to estimations from the city budget office, the cost-of-living raises baked into the contract make up more than half of the contract's total cost. The $31.7 million portion comes from across-the-board 1.6 percent retroactive raises for fiscal year 2021 (which began in July 2021) and a 5 percent raised for the fiscal year that begins in July 2022.

This rate is identical to the contract agreement recently reached with the city and some 1,200 city employees represented by the District Council of Trade Unions (DCTU), a conglomeration of several unions representing about 16 percent of the city’s workforce. On February 9, DCTU averted a strike by agreeing to the city's offer of a retroactive 1.6 percent cost-of-living raise and an additional 5 percent cost-of-living raise that would go into effect in July 2022. The DCTU contract will cost the city an estimated $40 million over the course of four years.

Members of the PPA have already voted to approve the contract, with a 96 percent majority in favor.

City Council will hear public testimony on the proposed agreement Thursday at 2 pm (follow along here). Commissioners are scheduled to vote on the contract February 24.