Three-year deal is retroactive to July 2012

After many months of negotiating, the city of Cornelius and the Cornelius Police Officers Association (CPOA) have reached agreement on a new three-year contract.

“This has been two years in the making,” interim Cornelius Police Chief Ken Summers said. “This started as an arduous, plodding process, but in the last couple months, there has been a new willingness to set aside our differences and work together.”

On April 1, the Cornelius City Council voted unanimously to approve the agreement, which is retroactive to July 1, 2012 and will be in effect through June 30, 2015.

The long, drawn-out contract negotiations were hampered by tension and hostility between labor and management, which exploded last October when four officers presented city councilors with allegations of misconduct by top police officials.

That case is ongoing, but the parties were nevertheless able to hammer out a deal that Summers believes is a fair one.

“We feel this is very fair to citizens and the Police Officers Association members,” he said.

Cornelius Police Officer Mark Jansen, president of the CPOA, said the organization is happy with the deal.

"The members of the Cornelius Police Officers Association believe that the final labor agreement reached between the union and the city is a fair and reasonable contract," Jansen wrote in an email. "We are pleased that the contract is now settled."

Council member Dave Schamp said he appreciated the good faith efforts of both sides in reaching common ground during the negotiations.

“Congratulations on a good piece of work. I know how challenging this was, and appreciate the willingness of the CPOA to work with the city,” said Schamp.

Mayor Jef Dalin agreed.

“I like the movement,” Dalin said. “These negotiations are never a lot of fun, but it’s the right direction and good progress.”

The contract applies to 10 police officers. Summers and Lt. Joe Noffsinger are not covered under the union agreement.

City Manager Rob Drake said there was growing urgency to get a deal finalized.

“The contract had been expired since 2011, so I would imagine the CPOA was as interested in settling as the city,” Drake explained. “Chief Summers has worked well with officer Mark Jansen and vice-versa, so that probably helped in the two finishing up the details of the contract. The association also deserves credit for willingness to work with us to craft a fair agreement.”

Drake pointed out that the new contract is very similar to the previous agreement that expired in 2011, but offers salary increases.

“It is dated retroactively to allow for cost of living increases,” Drake explained. “The officers will receive cost of living increases for the next two years prior to expiration of the contract in 2015.”

According to Drake, finalizing the contract with the Police Department is an important achievement.

“Settling our labor contract allows the city and our police officers to move forward in a positive manner to focus on serving and protecting the residents of Cornelius,” Drake said.

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