It’s important to first understand collective bargaining.
Before we do a deep dive into answering does collective bargaining improves police salaries, let’s review what collective bargaining is and is not. Simply stated, collective bargaining (for law enforcement in NJ and as defined by the Public Employer-Employee Relations Act) is a process of negotiations between employers and a recognized majority representative for a specific group of employees. Though collective bargaining deals with the important subject of salaries, it is not solely attached to this topic. Often collective bargain embraces working conditions, workplace rules and hours, holidays, sick leave, vacation time, retirement benefits, and health care benefits.
The process aims at reaching agreements between employees and employers to define, regulate and enforce worker’s packages of benefits—ones that most often do include compensation. A Collective Bargaining Agreement usually establishes these conditions/benefits/definitions for a set number of years. In the US, collective bargaining involves the leaders of a labor union and the management of the company that employs those union members. Though past history chronicles antagonistic labor strikes and lockouts, most collective bargaining is approached and executed with common respect for each side with an agreed upon conclusion judged to be fair for each side.
Law enforcement and collective bargaining: Unique in its approach and execution.
Though the right to bargain “collectively” is enjoyed by virtually all union employees in America, the accepted approach and execution of how it is applied in normal practice is denied to law enforcement employees. Our oath and commitment to protect the public—which prohibits work stoppages, slowdowns and strikes in order to provide continued safety—alters the mechanism needed to resolve employee issues (police) with their employers (the municipalities/counties/agencies).
Without a doubt, this reality can pose problems for officers in law enforcement. It’s here that your membership into a local FOP lodge in New Jersey offers the services and benefits that constantly protect, and work to improve, the rights of our state’s law enfocement brethren. Though the FOPNJ supports and champions bills and legislation that offer more bargaining rights for public safety employees while still observing existing NJ collective bargaining laws, the FOPNJ remains dedicated to applying our experience and expertise to work on our members’ behalf. That commitment relates to your current contract and more importantly, with the next one.
Does collective bargaining improve police salaries?
A generally accepted conclusion (through historic documentation) is that weekly wages of unionized workers remain higher than non-union workers. Our efforts produce results that our members can bank on. Each city’s economic strength or weakness plays a role in determining police salaries, but the collective bargaining initiated, directed, and negotiated by the FOPNJ and specifically by the FOP – New Jersey Labor Council produces real results our members not only appreciate, but they also count on! In 2021 alone, the average is above 5.1% for annual salary increases.
Far more than a weekly paycheck, FOP members generally enjoy pay packages that are usually more enriched than non-union law enforcement officers.
Adding to this achievement of higher average salaries for FOPNJ members are a host of other benefits that add real and measurable improvement to any pay package. Though the weekly wage amount is the default measurement of ones’ salary, the FOPNJ works hard to maximize a host of other benefits that greatly influence your standard of living and well-being. Your pay package is far more than what is given to you each week. Each city and department have their own set of additional benefits to address other than a weekly paycheck. Here is a listing of the ones the FOPNJ regularly negotiates for its members:
- Hours and overtime pay
- Sick leave and other absence payouts
- Health care
- Vacations and holiday
- Educational reimbursement and training
- Uniforms and cell phone stipends
- Retirement benefits
For police officers throughout New Jersey, few words are as meaningful and consequential as the words above. With every opportunity where new contracts are being negotiated, the FOPNJ has your back. Though our mission will always be to service our membership, our objective in collective bargaining is to structure a pay package that is fair to all: fair to the taxpayers that pay the wages, fair to the city municipalities that manage public safety, and fair to the police officers who we feel need and desire of a reward for putting their lives on the line every day. We’re sure that this is one goal we can all collectively agree upon.