USF, police union agree on new contract listen01/24/08 SeÃ¡n Kinane
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After months of negotiations, the University of South Florida reached an agreement Tuesday with the Police Benevolent Association on a contract for the University Police Department. Yesterday, the police ratified the contract by a vote of 24-4.
The University Police had suggested that they were understaffed, in part because their low salary scale; officials said they could not compete with nearby police departments, leading to a high turnover of officers.
Sandy Lovins is associate vice president of Human Resources at USF and was the chief negotiator for the USF Board of Trustees.
The base salary for officers had been just over $35,000 per year. Lovins said there were other perks built into the contract.
In the following year of the contract, officers that have been with USF for longer than five years would also get pay increases.
The lead negotiator for the university police, Greg Stout, who is president of the West Central Florida Police Benevolent Association, was not available for comment.
The president of the USF Chapter of United Faculty of Florida, Sherman Dorn, who is an associate professor of education at USF, is pleased the two sides came to terms.
â€œI know that a lot of students and faculty and staff have been worried about campus security and this is something thatâ€™s of importance to hundreds of people at the University of South Florida.â€
In December, contract negotiations between the university and its police broke down. But Sandy Lovins said that the two sides were able to come together.
The negotiation breakdown came on the heels of a study commissioned by USF. The university paid $13,000 to Hallcrest Systems Inc. to study the safety of the campus. It concluded that the USF police department is â€œunderstaffedâ€ and had a â€œnon-competitive compensation package.â€
The new contract should address those problems, Lovins said.
Dorn told WMNF that the other three unions of USF employees deserve fair contracts as well. Negotiations for all three should begin between this week or in early February.
The USF Board of Trustees still needs to ratify the contract. That could happen within the next two to four weeks.