Things are tough all over, and the law enforcement professionals working in Pharr, Texas know it all too well. But they’re willing to do their part in terms of belt tightening just as long as they’re not the only ones making sacrifices: according to local labor union officials, their officers didn’t even bother to ask for raises during recent negotiations with the city.
It’s part of an effort to help the city save money at a time when it is financially struggling, Sgt. Lupe Castillo, president of the Pharr officers' affiliate of the Combined Law Enforcement Associations of Texas told the Associated Press.
But just to keep the city honest the officers will seek a condition allowing them raises if any other city employees get them.
"If one city employee gets a raise, we want the exact same raise," he said.
The city approved a similar deal with the firefighters union earlier this year.
Currently, the two sides have agreed to extend their current labor agreement for one year. That agreement says that if the city gives across-the-board raises or bonuses to any city employees, the firefighters and police officers will get the same treatment.
"We understand the city is going through some financial hardships," said Carlos Cabello, president of the Pharr Professional Firefighters Association. "We're doing everything we can to help them regain their financial footing."
Pharr Mayor Leo "Polo" Palacios suggested repealing the collective bargaining rights, due to concerns that the unions' salary and benefit demands would exceed the city's resources. Palacios even encouraged fire and police officials who were unhappy with their salaries to quit. The police department has had a problem retaining personnel in recent years due to competition with other agencies that haven’t shelved the possibility of raises.
In an effort to keep their cops on the job in Pharr, Castillo said he’s asking that officers get two extra holidays - Christmas Eve and New Year's Eve - offers which he said have already been extended to other city employees.
"What we're asking for is non-economic," Castillo told the AP. "We're asking for no money."
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