On Tuesday, Seattle City Council voted to approve the Seattle Police Management Association (SPMA) Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA), and, for the first time, the Seattle Community Police Commission (CPC) was allowed a technical advisor to participate in the contract negotiating process. The CPC appointed Commissioner Suzette Dickerson as its technical advisor, and the Commission applauds this initial action to increase community representation in the CBA process.
“This contract takes critical steps forward – and the process itself marked a milestone in that a community representative participated in the police bargaining process. But there remains a lot of work to do to improve transparency in the contract process. It is not enough that community has a seat at the table. Community voice must be central to this process to make sure demands for police accountability are not negotiated away. We will be closely watching the Seattle Police Officer Guild (SPOG) Collective Bargaining Agreement as that process moves forward and using every tool at our disposal to ensure community voices are represented.”Brandy Grant, Seattle Community Police Ccommission Executive Director
Below are some of the key takeaways from the SPMA contract:
- Previously, civilian investigators at the Office of Police Accountability (OPA) were restricted from completing certain tasks. The new contract removes those restrictions, allowing the OPA to make assignments based on investigators’ skills rather than their sworn status.
- In the past, arbitrators have undermined Seattle Police Department (SPD) disciplinary actions aimed at holding SPD members accountable, in part because they were not prohibited from conducting full reviews of OPA investigations. Moving forward, arbitrators/neutral examiners will only be allowed to assess if OPA findings were supported by the related investigation and if the resulting discipline was fair.
- SPMA members who are required to wear Body-Worn Cameras will receive a 2% premium based on their base monthly salary and added to their pay until the end of 2022.
Next Steps: SPOG Contract Negotiations
Informed by community feedback, the CPC made eight recommendations to the Mayor and City Council regarding police contract negotiations involving the SPOG (as well as SPMA). These recommendations, if implemented, will strengthen Seattle’s police accountability and disciplinary system and bring more transparency to police contract negotiations. Earlier this month, the CPC requested that City Council delay the vote to adopt the SPMA contract due to the short notice of completing a comprehensive, community-based review of the contract prior to the scheduled vote.
SPMA represents SPD’s Captains and Lieutenants, whereas SPOG represents sergeants and officers who comprise a larger proportion of frontline officers. As the SPOG CBA is underway, the CPC will continue to push for more transparency in the collective bargaining process.
Since our inception, the CPC has been committed to ensuring the collective bargaining rights of all people are protected. However, we must acknowledge that police are vested with unparalleled authority in our society to carry weapons, use force, and deprive people of their liberty. Because of this unique dynamic, police officers must be subject to higher standards, including transparency in collective bargaining above and beyond what is appropriate for non-law enforcement unions.
The Seattle Community Police Commission is committed to listening to, amplifying, and building common ground among communities affected by policing. The Commission champions policing practices centered in justice and equity.