Baltimore police officers apparently approved a proposed two-year contract yesterday by a narrow margin, but a vote by sergeants and lieutenants on the same contract ended in a tie, according to some of the police union's members.
Don W. Helms, president of Lodge No. 3 of the Fraternal Order of Police, which negotiated the contract with the city, said both votes were still unofficial and too close to call.
"The votes are so close that we want to verify the figure," Mr. Helms said last night after the last vote was tallied at a hall in Parkville. "It could go either way."
If the tie vote holds up, the supervisors in effect rejected the
contract. Asked if the Fraternal Order of Police would then go back to the city to negotiate a new contract for the supervisors, Mr. Helms said, "That's a decision that our organization will have to make."
The votes were taken at a series of four meetings, one in the morning and one in the evening for patrol officers and the same number for supervisors. The proposed two-year contract offers no salary increase in its first year, and a four percent increase in the second year.
The salary freeze for the first year of the contract is in line with Mayor Kurt L. Schmoke's request that all municipal unions defer expected pay increases to allow the city to weather tight fiscal conditions. With the one-year salary freeze, the city will not have to resort to layoffs or significant cuts in services.
Mr. Helms said that several issues were raised on both sides during the meetings, but that there was no specific grievance from those who opposed the contract. One officer leaving the supervisors' meeting last night -- who did not want to be identified -- said the disagreement centered on money and the length of the contract, with many officers preferring to stay with a one-year pact and renegotiate with the city next year.
"My personal opinion is that something is better than nothing," said the officer, who favored passage of the contract. "But apparently I'm in the minority."