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A divided Minneapolis City Council approved a new police union contract Thursday, one that sets officers up for significant bonuses while making no changes to contractual disciplinary measures.

The new contract, approved by an 8-5 vote, provides a $7,000 hiring and retention incentive to Minneapolis police officers, paid out in two chunks (with the timing dependent upon whether they are a new hire or an existing officer). 

Supporters argue the financial incentive is desperately needed to rebuild the diminished force, which has about 300 fewer officers now than before George Floyd's murder by former officer Derek Chauvin, the Star Tribune reported last year.

A city Q&A document also points to one-time hiring bonuses being offered by neighboring cities — including $5,000 in Brooklyn Park and $10,000 in Roseville — as evidence Minneapolis needs to offer something similar in order to attract talent.

The new contract covers from 2020 through the end of 2022. Minneapolis police officers have been working sans an approved contract since 2019, with the city and union in negotiation for months.

Under the new deal, officers will get raises, some applied retroactively — 1% in 2020, 1.5% the following year and 2% for 2022. The contract also grants universal "market adjustment" salary increases of 2.5% as of Jan. 1, 2022, and another 1% from the end of the year onward.

No changes to discipline, grievance

Critics of the deal, even back when the tentative agreement was announced, began circling the discipline and grievance sections of the contract. 

As pointed out by Nick Harper in a Medium post, the language includes no changes to those policies. Meaning —

— the city's police force is in line for significant raises without acquiescing to any contractual changes to how discipline and grievances are handled.

This was a sticking point for some of the council members who voted against the new contract ("We're literally saying, please anybody come work for us. We're going to pay you more but you will not have to face any discipline," said Council Member Robin Wonsley Worlobah) as well as outside groups, including a coalition of local nonprofit.

"We are troubled by the lack of any changes around discipline in this contract," a letter signed by the groups last week says.

Supporters pushed back.

In a statement prior to the vote, the City of Minneapolis said in a statement to Bring Me The News that keeping these discipline and grievance changes out of the contract "reserves more managerial authority to create and enforce discipline policy."

The city's Q&A notes discipline and grievance procedures have to align with state law, and that Minneapolis "has no ability to bargain for something which conflicts with" those regulations.

Council President Andrea Jenkins also argued "manager control" is the best option for discipline, as it allows the city and department to "grow, evolve and develop disciplinary actions as they arise."

Some council members who voted in support of the contract also brought up arbitration as a factor. If they rejected this proposal, the city and police union would end up in binding arbitration, Council Member LaTrisha Vetaw said, which could result in an even less favorable outcome.

"We have another chance at this in the near future, and we will start negotiating the 2023 contract soon," she said, adding the next chief, whoever that is, will play "a huge role: in how officers are disciplined.

The approved contract now goes to Mayor Frey for review. He's previously said he supports the deal.

Here's how everyone voted:

  • Aisha Chughtai - No
  • Jason Chavez - No
  • Jeremiah Ellison - No
  • LaTrisha Vetaw - Yes
  • Michael Rainville - Yes
  • Robin Wonsley Worlobah - "Absolutely not"
  • Lisa Goodman - Yes
  • Andrew Johnson - Yes
  • Kamal Osman - Yes
  • Elliot Payne - No
  • Emily Koski - Yes
  • Linea Palmisano - Yes
  • Andrea Jenkins - Yes

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