DUBUQUE, Iowa — Police in Dubuque say they need to earn more than what the city is willing to offer.
Now it’s up to a labor relations judge to decide how much more money officers will receive.
Starting July 1, Dubuque plans to give all city employees a 1.5-percent pay bump. But members of the Dubuque Police Protective Association say officers deserve a 3-percent increase.
The D.P.P.A. says of the top 15 largest cities in Iowa, Dubuque’s veteran officers fall at the very bottom of the pay scale.
D.P.P.A President, Kurt Rosenthal, has been a police officer in Dubuque for almost 12 years. He said he’s offended by what calls the city’s ‘lowball’ wage increase offer.
Rosenthal said, “They refuse to compare us with other cops and it’s been like that for years. So we are taking a stand and saying ‘not anymore!’”
According to numbers from The Iowa Public Employment Relations Board, when an officer first starts working in Dubuque, he or she is paid $53,720 per year.
Among the largest 15 cities in Iowa, Dubuque’s first year officers rank 5th on the pay scale.
But after 11 years on the force, numbers indicate Dubuque officers aren’t getting the same pay increases compared to those bigger cities. Officers with 11 years of service earn $62,738. That’s the lowest of the top 15 largest cities.
“(Residents) want to be safe. And that’s what we want to do is provide a good service. But we need to get paid for it,” said Rosenthal.
City leaders use a different scale to compare officer’s wages. They compare Dubuque to other cities that have a population between 20,000 and 60,000. Dubuque’s population is 58,000. Dubuque officer’s salaries rank near the top of that scale.
Dubuque Human Resources Manager Randy Peck said, “We want to be sure that we’re still offering a competitive salary and benefit package and we believe we have with the offer we’ve made.”
Peck says the city doesn’t have money in the budget for a 3 percent raise for all 84 police officers.
“We have to live within our means,” said Peck.
Rosenthal said, “Budget crunch or not having the funds is two different things. They have the funds. They budgeted that amount. They could have budgeted more.”
The 1.5 percent across the board pay increase for all city employees does not include the city manager, the city attorney or the city clerk. The city council will make a decision on whether or not to give those employees a raise.
The labor relations judge will make a decision on the police pay increase in the next couple weeks.
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