Methuen Police ‘Optimistic’ About Reaching Salary Agreement, Says Union President

(File photograph.)

Methuen Police union negotiations continue as the city budget is closer to being finalized. (File photograph)

Despite the recent back-and-forth regarding Methuen Police Department salaries, officers aren’t letting budget-related turmoil impact their service to the city. In a conversation with WHAV, Methuen Superior Officers Union President Capt. Greg Gallant said his members have their minds on the citizens of Methuen—not money.

“My union body’s heavily invested in the success of the city and the welfare of the citizens,” said Gallant, a 24-year veteran of the force. “We don’t want to put the city in a situation where the police department can’t do some of the great work we enjoy doing.”

Indeed, Gallant has found issue with the multiple—and vastly different—wage schedules submitted to his union by the city, but is “optimistic” all will be sorted out by the start of July 1’s fiscal year.

As Gallant tells WHAV, his officers are most troubled by the fact that the city can’t quite make sense of the budget already established through a collective bargaining agreement. One year into their contract, union officers allege the city is ignoring the previously agreed-upon contract wage.

“If the teachers or firefighters demanded a raise one year into their contract, would the City just pay it, or would it hold them to the contract they negotiated?” union attorney Gary N. Nolan argued in a letter to Methuen City Councilors.

In his letter, Nolan outlines the provision that failure to pay wages in Massachusetts may result in mandatory triple damages plus attorney’s fees for each employee impacted. Such penalties would likely fall to the Methuen taxpayer, Nolan said.

As a result of the budget set forth by Major James P. Jajuga, the City Council would be required to violate the Superior Officers union’s contract. The city of Methuen has two police unions: A Patrolmen’s Union and the 26-member Superior Officers Union, which consists of captains, sergeants and lieutenants.

The five-year contract of Chief Joseph Solomon is not negotiated by the union, Gallant said. Instead, Solomon’s salary is calculated at a ratio of 2.6 times that of the highest-paid, full-time patrolman. Based on contractual salary increases, Solomon stands to make upward of $370,000 in pay and benefits in the upcoming fiscal year, which begins July 1.

Superior Officers union wage negotiations are ongoing and expected to be resolved by the June 30 deadline, Gallant said.