Members of the Connecticut State Police Union voted this week to approve a tentative contract agreement with Gov. Ned Lamont’s administration to provide annual raises in addition to monetary incentives for both junior and senior troopers.
In an interview Wednesday, the union’s executive director, Andrew Matthews, said his members “overwhelmingly” approved the deal in a 675 to 43 vote conducted on Monday and Tuesday following a week of informational meetings on the agreement.
“Our members have been through a lot over the last few years with COVID, police accountability, they’ve been under attack by members of the public. It’s really taken a toll on them,” Matthews said. “So I think it’s fair to say that Governor Lamont himself and his administration, they came to the table. They recognized that and recognized the risks that our troopers face every day protecting the public and they gave them a more than fair contract.”
The agreement shares elements with the four-year contracts approved earlier this year by most other state employees, who are represented by the State Employee Bargaining Agent Coalition. Like the SEBAC agreements, the new trooper contracts will provide annual wage increases of 2.5% and include $3,500 retention bonuses.
Other provisions are aimed at boosting recruitment to the state police ranks. Matthews said the agreement would increase starting pay for recruits in the academy from $50,000 per year to $64,000 and after six months pay would rise to $71,000 per year, up from $61,000. New troopers recruited from other police departments will also start at the second pay step and make $73,000 per year, Matthews said.
The agreement condenses a current 10-step pay scale down to eight steps, he said. Matthews said the new scale would benefit junior troopers still early in their careers.
“I think the junior kids were extremely satisfied,” Matthews said. “[The agreement includes] significant increases to try to recruit. The governor’s administration — the governor himself, actually — was very focused on retention and recruitment and we think that this is a very positive step in that direction, in that they’ll be able to recruit and retain the talent that they have.”
Senior members who have already reached the top pay step will also benefit from the terms of the agreement. Matthews said they would receive 2% lump sum payments each year of the contract.
Another provision of the agreement will increase the educational benefits available to state troopers. According to Matthews, the deal expands on a current one-time $500 benefit for receiving a bachelors or masters degree, so troopers pursuing higher education degrees can receive the benefit annually.
The troopers’ approval of the deal and praise for the administration caps a rocky first term relationship between the governor and the union. Two years ago, its members voted “no confidence” in Lamont and his public safety leadership team due in part to his support of the 2020 police accountability law.
In a statement Wednesday, the governor’s spokesperson, Anthony Anthony, said the administration was glad to see the police ratify the agreement.
“Our state police deserve the best for their courage, dedication, and commitment to protecting public safety, and this contract will give them greater opportunity to continue doing good on behalf of our communities with better wages, education, training, and professional development benefits,” Anthony said. The governor’s office also praised the work of their negotiator, David Krayeski.
The agreement will still need to be approved by the state legislature, which earlier this year approved the negotiated SEBAC deal on a largely partisan vote.