Though far from perfect, the recent contract agreed to by the Dunkirk Police Benevolent Association and the city could be viewed as a template for future negotiations for all area municipalities and school districts.
In an OBSERVER's View on Jan. 22, we noted our distaste for the "longevity pay" portion of the deal. That is a $1,050 payment that begins this year and ends in 2015 with the contract. What is the welcome portion of the deal is the first three years: zero percent pay hikes, which is similar to the deal for city firefighters reached in 2012.
Though still not an outright concession, it is an admission by the officers. They know the city is facing a rough and uncertain future in terms of its industry and business climate. They also know it is better to look like a partner in negotiations, than an adversary.
The same could not be said last year for the county CSEA, which came to the table seeking a 5 percent annual pay increase from Chautauqua County. Though negotiations are continuing, there are signs the union is offering some concessions - about $400,000 worth - for those workers at the County Home.
That is unfortunate. If county union leaders are offering concessions for one sector of its employees, why not another?
In the meantime, some municipalities such as the town of Dunkirk, at left, just seem to be OK with showering money at its employees. At its first meeting of the year, the town handed out 3 percent pay raises to its staff like a generous tooth fairy who visits a denture factory.
Those raises are not just costs for 2013, they are costs the town will be burdened with in the future, specifically when it comes time to pay the pension bill to New York state.