Detroit sues police union over wages

City of Detroit files lawsuit in effort to keep police wages in place after 10 percent cut

Author: Rod Meloni, Local 4 Business Editor, @RodMeloni
Published On: Apr 18 2013 05:29:10 AM EDT   Updated On: Apr 17 2013 06:13:04 PM EDT
Detroit police car
DETROIT -

The city of Detroit forced its police officers, along with every other city employee, to take a 10 percent pay cut last year despite the staggering crime they fight.

Read back: Bing implements union benefit, pay cuts immediately

The police union took the city to arbitration. In an imposed contract that runs through June of 2014, the city asked the arbitration panel to keep police salaries right where they are as a last best offer. The police officers wanted their money back. Their last best offer is the full 10 percent.

The arbitrator split the difference and ruled three weeks ago the officers should get 5 percent back in January. In real dollars, that means a 5-year Detroit police officer was making $53,000 a year and after the 10 percent cut was making $47,000 each year. With the arbitrator's ruling, pay would go up to just more than $50,000 each year come January.

Local 4 has learned the city of Detroit is suing. Mayor Dave Bing's office says the "arbitration panel exceeded its jurisdiction and/or authority by failing to adopt either the last best offer ... on the issue of wages."

A separate statement quotes Mayor Bing as saying "our belief is that the law compels acceptance of the city's offer because of our financial condition."

The police officers' union hadn't seen the lawsuit when Local 4 told leadership about it. This has been a long fight and there is no reason to believe anyone on either side has tempered their positions.

NOTE: Michigan state law 312 calls for a forced settlement between cities and police officers when they can't negotiate a contract.