Middletown town council on Monday unanimously approved a two-year labor deal with the union that represents a majority of the officers in its municipal police department.

Middletown town council on Monday unanimously approved a two-year labor deal with the union that represents a majority of the officers in its municipal police department.

The deal marks the first time that Middletown has entered a labor agreement with a collective bargaining unit that represents any of the town's 131 employees.

“Because it was the first time for any of us, it was a lengthy process that got us to this point,” said Officer Brian McKinery, the president of Fraternal Order of Police Lodge #20. “But I can honestly say I’ve never been part of a collective bargaining contract that’s gone as smoothly as this one did. They really made it easy on us and we tried to do the same.”

The Middletown Police Department was formed in 2007, but officers in the department did not form a labor union until 2011.

The department’s 22 sworn police officers between the ranks of patrol officer and master sergeant have been operating under a memorandum of understanding with the town’s elected officials ever since.

FOP Lodge #20’s three-member negotiating team had been working with town officials since early 2013 to reach a formal labor agreement that would replace the initial memorandum, which expired July 1.

The union’s membership voted 16-5 last week to ratify the deal that was approved by town council on Monday.

“The process was an amicable one for all sides and I’m pleased we are moving forward with an approved contract,” said Town Manager Morris Deputy.

McKinery said the biggest change included in the new labor agreement is an expanded pay differential resulting from promotions between the ranks of officer first class and sergeant.

“Previously, there was not much separation in the pay for those ranks,” he said. “The changes better reflect what are statewide average salaries for those positions.”

Under the terms of the new collective bargaining agreement, a newly hired patrol officer will start with at annual minimum salary of $45,888.

After a third year of employment, that officer would earn $52,516 and would then be eligible for a promotion to Officer First Class, which would include a 10-percent pay increase.

After six years of employment, that same officer – then earning $61,304 – would be eligible for a promotion to corporal and a 5-percent pay increase.

Three years later, the officer would be eligible for a promotion to master corporal and a 3-percent pay increase, bringing their salary to $70,226.

That same officer then would be eligible for a promotion to sergeant, which would include a 5-percent pay hike to $71,400, which is equal to more than 55 percent of the salary the officer began with 10 years earlier.

The newly-approved labor deal also guarantees union members an annual, across-the-board pay increase of at least 2 percent during each of the next two years, or the same percentage pay increase as other town employees, whichever is greater.

Any officer who receives a suspension beyond 24 hours will not be eligible for any pay increase, a rule that also extends to other town employees not covered by the labor deal.

“For the most part, the rest of the agreement simply puts what had been long-standing practices into writing,” McKinery said. “There’s really not that much to it.”

According to the rules of the contract, Middletown police officers are not required to join the union, although all officers at the rank of master sergeant and below receive the benefits included in the labor deal.

The contract also forbids members of FOP Lodge #20 from going on strike for any reason.