The city of Pharr has reached collective bargaining agreements with both the police and fire unions, making way for incremental pay increases and organizational modifications.
Each entity agreed to three-year contracts. Pharr police will be receiving a 15% increase in base pay for entry level police officers over the next three years — 7% in the first year, 4% in the second year, and 4% in the third year.
The new contracts also include a physical fitness deal, which until now was only policy.
“The city wants to ensure that the police department has officers that are physically fit, and we’re all for that,” Lt. Danny Leal, police union president, said Wednesday.
The firefighters will receive a 13% increase over three years, as well as the addition of battalion chief officers to the rank structure.
“For this year’s collective bargaining contract, we were looking to gain officers with the suppression staffs to oversee our daily operations of four fire stations,” Michael Navarro, fire investigator and fire union president said.
“We added a battalion chief to our operational organization chart. On top of that, we also added a few new certifications that will help entice the new firefighters to gain more knowledge into the fire ground tactics and/or prevention tactics to help get more training regarding fire prevention and fire suppression and different certifications that the state holds,” Navarro added.
Both Navarro and Leal said that they were pleased with the results of the negotiations. Navarro praised the city commission, Mayor Ambrosio Hernandez and City Manager Ed Wylie for their openness throughout the entire negotiation process.
“It went very smooth,” Navarro said. “We were able to communicate back and forth our needs, and they pretty much meet our needs. For any potential fireman, or anyone who would like to become a fireman, this just shows how the city is working together with our first responders and is always willing to participate and help in anything that they might need from the firefighter standpoint all the way up to the officer standpoint. It helps us grow to the next level.”
Leal said the union has been pleased with the outcome of negotiations.
“What it means now is that we’re more competitive than we previously were to bring us closer in line with the top departments,” Leal added. “We’d like for the Pharr Police Department to be a department that recruits want to come to instead of going over to Edinburg PD or McAllen PD. With our salary increases that we’re going to get, that’s going to attract top candidates and retain the candidates that we do have.”