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Police union reaches deal with New Castle County after tense contract negotiations

Fraternal Order of Police Lodge 5 (Facebook)
A demonstration by FOP Lodge 5 members during contentious contract negotiations

New Castle County forged a deal with its police union after bitter contract negotiations that stretched the better part of a year.

The drawn-out bargaining between New Castle County and its police union saw several public demonstrations by union members — including one where County Executive Matt Meyer’s face was plastered on a giant inflatable rat. 

But just before the parties entered binding arbitration, they reached a tentative agreement. 

Union president Jonathon Yard says his members approved the deal — which promises a gradual 6.5 percent raise for all members over the 3 year contract, retroactive to last summer. Members will pay more for health insurance premiums under the contract, but get the option of offsetting some of the costs of the most expensive plan by participating in a wellness program.

“We sort of made some headway,” said Yard. “We lost some things, gained some things, and then ultimately the last tentative agreement that was put before us was a better option than if we were to lose and have to take the last, best and final from the arbitrator if she ruled in the County’s favor.”

The union did not get pay increases targeted specifically to officers later in their careers, which union leadership argued would help with recruitment and retention. 

Meyer rejected that idea last fall — saying the County would not prioritize union leadership over officers in their first years of service.

County Executive Matt Meyer says he is proud the County reached the agreement with the police union. He says it will sustain the police force in a financially responsible way. 

“It includes a wellness plan that gives officers an incentive to stay healthy and well,” Meyer said. “It includes the highest cost of living increase in their salary in well over 10 years.”


County officials say the new contract also improves employee grievance rights.

The contract expires in summer 2022, according to County officials, and is retroactive to last spring, when the union’s previous deal expired. 

It still needs County Council approval.

Sophia Schmidt is a Delaware native. She comes to Delaware Public Media from NPR’s Weekend Edition in Washington, DC, where she produced arts, politics, science and culture interviews. She previously wrote about education and environment for The Berkshire Eagle in Pittsfield, MA. She graduated from Williams College, where she studied environmental policy and biology, and covered environmental events and local renewable energy for the college paper.
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