By Jane Prendergast
The Cincinnati Enquirer
Cincinnati police officers approved a new two-year contract by just 19 votes, though union officials had touted it as the largest pay increase in a decade.
Officers voted 210-191, according to results announced Thursday by the Fraternal Order of Police. Supervisors were more supportive, voting 83-47 in favor.
The deal will pay them about 9‡ percent more over the two years - 3 percent each year in salary, a boost in certification pay and an additional training allowance in the second year.
But officers also pay health insurance premiums for the first time: $30 a month for family coverage the first year, $35 the second.
The deal also gives the city a more level playing field during disciplinary arbitration. A permanent panel of nine arbitrators will be established, and the union now will be limited to looking back three years in records for comparative disciplines.
City officials have complained that the union has an unfair advantage by being able to research back further than the city's three-year maximum.
The contract vote turnout, about half the approximately 1,020 eligible voters, was about the same as the votes for the past two contracts, said Keith Fangman, vice president of the union. But he called the narrow approval margin a referendum on City Hall from officers who are fed up with the aftermath of the April 2001 riots, the U.S. Department of Justice investigation and ongoing false promises of support from the city.
"The closeness of the vote should be considered a wake-up call for City Hall that your police officers are fed up and tired of the false promises and political doubletalk,'' Officer Fangman said. "It's obvious that a number of our police officers believe the city should have given more.''
Mayor Charlie Luken said he's "worked very hard to demonstrate our support for our police officers."
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