Westminster police unionize for better wages

January 10, 2001|By Maria Blackburn | Maria Blackburn,SUN STAFF

More than two dozen members of the Westminster Police Department have joined a union in a bid to improve wages and benefits, and to prevent officers from leaving for higher-paying jobs.

The police union chapter was established late last month under a charter from the International Union of Police Associations. City officials and Westminster police Chief Roger Joneckis learned of the move Monday.

Rich Roberts, a spokesman for the union, said 28 of 34 Westminster police officers eligible to join the union have become members.

"The city cannot afford to train officers only to lose them in a few years," Westminster police Sgt. Mike Augerinos, vice president of the new union, said in a news release. "We want to eliminate the temptation to simply use Westminster as a starting point from which to move on to better-paying departments in the area."

Before the new union can negotiate with the city, it must be approved by voters or by the city's Common Council, Westminster Mayor Kenneth A. Yowan said.

Yowan said he was puzzled by the decision to unionize. Average police salaries have increased by 16.9 percent since January 1999, he said. Average starting salary for a police officer in Westminster is $28,000.

In Baltimore, starting pay for patrol officers will be $35,784 next year.

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