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MDC officers get 8 percent pay raise

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — Bernalillo County commissioners voted unanimously on Tuesday to approve a contract that will provide members of the Metropolitan Detention Center correctional officers union 8 percent pay raises effective immediately.

The two-and-a-half-year contract was negotiated in December and approved by the union on Jan. 5.

“I just want to thank the union members for saying yes to the contract,” County Manager Julie Morgas Baca said during the meeting. “We’ll continue to work together collaboratively to provide a positive and safe environment for you.”

Stephen Perkins, president of the Bernalillo County Corrections Officer Association, praised the negotiation process, saying it was the most positive one he has been involved in with the county.

“We came to the table, we put everything on the table, and we actually negotiated something that we needed, and I thank you for that,” Perkins said. “The members thank you for that. Now it’s time to get to work.”

Under the contract, corrections officers on the job two to four years will see their base pay increase by about $2,900 a year. Those on the job five or more years will see increases of about $3,300. Sergeants and lieutenants will receive increases of about $3,700 and $4,450, respectively.

The contract also calls for employees with a bachelor’s degree or higher to receive an additional $45 a month in incentive pay.

The new contract will cost the county $2.5 million a year, although the impact on the current budget is estimated at $968,000, largely because less than half of the fiscal year remains.

Among the provisions contained in the new contract:

• A Memorandum of Understanding will be developed between the union and the county within 30 days to address pending disciplinary investigations.

• County management and the union will develop and implement a system to address overtime before March, when correctional officers bid for new positions and shifts.

• Elimination of the “me too” clause, stating that if any other county employee received a pay increase, the same would be awarded to corrections officers.

“One of the things we need to address is overtime, and I want to assure the staff that we take it very seriously and that we know they’re tired,” Morgas Baca said, acknowledging that officers are often required to work overtime to cover shifts. “We want to ensure that it’s a choice and that they have a choice whether they want to work the overtime or go home to their families.”

MDC Chief Greg Rees said the county is trying to foster a better relationship with the correctional officers union.

“We want to work together,” he said. “We understand that it’s a dangerous job. It’s a very time consuming job.”