Nederland reaches agreements with police, fire unions. See what that means.

Published 12:25 am Tuesday, June 15, 2021

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NEDERLAND — New three- and five-year deals, respectively, with The City of Nederland and police and fire department unions have positioned the community for sustained and excellent service, lead officials say.

City Manager Chris Duque thanked the police union and the fire union for what he termed as mostly smooth negotiations.

“There are always going to be a few bumps in the road when you are negotiating,” Duque said. “I think everybody took the time to walk through the arguments and to try and see both sides of the situation. I think both agreements are fair to our employees and also fair to the taxpayers.”

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Nederland Police Chief Gary Porter told Port Arthur Newsmedia the city made a good offer to a “bunch of good police officers” in order to keep a quality team in place.

“The whole agreement in its entirety is a good thing,” Porter said. “It is paying what I think is a fair salary to our officers. It will help us retain the best officers we can retain. It’s very difficult to hire police officers right now, and it is really important for our future to keep the good ones that we have.”

Nederland City Council members unanimously approved the agreements during their meeting Monday evening.

The collective bargaining agreement with the Nederland Police Officers’ Association begins Oct. 1 and runs until Sept. 20, 2024.

Officers hired after Oct. 1 must be employed five years with the police department to be eligible for promotion. Officers hired prior to that date must be employed two years to be eligible for promotion.

Other highlights include:

  • If an officer is promoted, the pay increases to a minimum of 6 percent from current base salary.
  • Officers receive a 2 percent cost of living allowance effective Oct. 1, 3 percent effective Oct. 1, 2022, and 3.5 percent effective Oct. 1, 2023.
  • The assistant chief’s pay will be adjusted on his promotion anniversary date during fiscal year 2021-22, 2022-23 and 2023-24 instead of in one lump sum.
  • A residency incentive calls for officers to receive a stipend of $125 a month for owning a home in Nederland or $75 a month for renting in Nederland.

“Having public safety employees residing in the community is a positive for community involvement reasons, as well as the ability to ensure proper response in case of emergency,” Duque said.

Police officers would also receive a stipend to encourage good health and physical fitness. Participation in this program is voluntary, and the assessment is based on standards used by the Texas Department of Public Safety.

Cell phone allowance increases from $25 to $40 a month.

Porter describes being an effective police officer as an art more than skill, noting officers must try to get better everyday.

“When you get a group of officers like we have acting in a professional manner with a high level of excellence, keeping those guys improving on their skills is important to the safety and well being of our citizens,” Porter said. “Not only do we have to keep them safe, we have to make them feel safe.”

Fire department

The collective bargaining agreement with the International Association of Firefighters, Local 3339 runs from Oct. 1 2021, to Sept. 30, 2026.

A new position has been added similar to the police department’s administrative assistant.

Firefighters have been given greater flexibility in using 12-hour vacation days into six-hour blocks for personal use.

The definition of immediate family now includes step grandchildren, step-siblings, brothers- and sisters-in-law and step-parents.

The residency incentive and physical fitness incentives match the police department’s.

Firefighters will receive a 2 percent cost of living adjustment effective Oct. 1, a 3 percent adjustment Oct. 1, 2022, 3.5 percent adjustment Oct. 1, 2023 and 2 percent jumps in 2024 and 2025.

“Based on the salary survey data, it was evident that salary adjustments were necessary for the firefighters, captains and fire chief positions,” Duque said. “Adopting the same practice as NPD, staff proposed adjustments to ensure firefighters, captains and assistant chief’s pay were the highest in the Mid County market.”