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Nassau, detectives union reach an 8.5-year labor deal

John Wighaus, president of the Nassau County Detectives'

John Wighaus, president of the Nassau County Detectives' Association, shakes hands with Nassau County Executive Laura Curran in Mineola on Monday. Credit: Howard Schnapp

Nassau County has reached an 8.5-year labor deal with its 300-member detectives union, agreeing to terms that officials hope will result in the recruitment of more detectives from the ranks of patrol officers who have said there was little financial incentive to apply for promotion.

The agreement marks the first labor deal struck between the county and one of its five major unions since the contracts expired at the end of 2017. Still unresolved are the contracts for the Civil Service Employees Association and the county Police Benevolent Association, Superior Officers Association and the Sheriff's Correction Officers Benevolent Association.

All detectives will receive raises of 2% each in 2020 and 2021, 2.5% each in 2022 and 2023, and 3% each in 2024 and 2025. Also, the detectives will receive a $2,000 lump sum payment covering 2018 and 2019.

Detectives also will work at least five additional tours each year, while new detectives will work an average of 12 more tours. The scheduling changes will result in more detectives policing county streets.

Also, all detectives will begin paying into their health insurance next year. Detectives will also forgo some vacation days for three years.

Termination pay is limited for future detectives. While incumbent detectives' termination pay will remain capped at twice their base salaries upon retirement, police officers promoted to detective after 2025 will receive a payout of 1.75 times their base salaries. New hires designated as detectives will have their termination pay capped at 1.5 times their base salary, beginning immediately.

“This solved the biggest problem that I really wanted to solve, the shortage of detectives," Nassau County Executive Laura Curran said in an interview Monday. "This contract really solves this problem in a way that’s fiscally responsible."

Nassau County officials could not provide an estimate of how much the contract would cost in the long run, citing a mix of financial variables. But a county spokeswoman said general wages will rise by 15% over the term of the contract.

John Wighaus, president of the county Detectives' Association, said in an interview that the union approved the contract at about 1:30 p.m. Monday, with 66% approval.

"We feel that it incentivizes police officers to want to be designated detectives," Wighaus said. "We feel this will retain detectives, being able to go through a career path with the new grades that have been set up."

Among other incentives, the agreement reduces the length of time it will take a detective to reach top pay. Wighaus said there was a detective shortage of about 60 officers.

County officials will submit the contract to the legislature for approval in January, and the final agreement must be approved by the Nassau Interim Finance Authority.

NIFA Chairman Adam Barsky said in a statement: “This contract with the Detectives Association Inc. (DAI) should set the standard and pattern for all other county labor contracts. Increasing work time, sharing health costs and modifying termination pay were all important goals in these negotiations. Coupled with very modest wage growth, this agreement is a win for Nassau taxpayers.

"Wages and benefits represent the single largest expense for county’s budget. Having a long-term stable contract with incentives for increased productivity is an essential building block for the County to emerge from the financial control period.”

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