St. Louis City Police Department Collective Bargaining Agreement
VPC is collecting public input on the Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) that the St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department, City of St. Louis, and St. Louis Police Officers' Association are negotiating. Right now, our focus is on the City CBA since it is currently being negotiated.
We believe incorporating community voice into the process will increase public trust, improve officers' experiences, and reduce violence. We realise everyone may not know much about the CBA process, so we have put together a video, frequently asked questions, and a one page document to help you learn more about it.
We are asking that you take a few minutes to learn about the CBA then provide feedback by:
Filling out our online survey (bit.ly/stlcbasurvey)
Following and responding to polls on our social media (@stlareavpc on Facebook and Twitter) during the week of September 14, and/or
Attending our virtual town hall on September 24. (RSVP here)
We are also asking that you share this opportunity with your friends, coworkers, and neighbors!
CBA 101 Video
CBA Frequently Asked Questions
What is a CBA?
CBA stands for Collective Bargaining Agreement. A CBA is the police union contract that controls how police do their jobs.
What does it cover?
The CBA covers much of how our police do their job. This includes, but is not limited to:
Officer salary & benefits
Civilian oversight of police officers
Use of force & officer-involved shooting investigations
Accountability systems like mental health testing
Who creates it?
The CBA is negotiated between the St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department (currently represented by Chief John Hayden), City of St. Louis (currently represented by the Mayor’s Office, Public Safety Department Director Judge Jimmie Edwards, and City Personnel Department Director Richard Franks), and the St. Louis Police Officers’ Association (SLPOA), the bargaining police union. The Ethical Society of Police, the union which represents some members of SLMPD who are not members of SLPOA, is not a member of the negotiations. There can be only one bargaining police union in each jurisdiction.
Why does the CBA matter to the public?
The CBA sets the rules for police, so people who want to improve policing must improve the CBA. It defines what information the public can have about officers who are accused of doing something wrong or injuring/killing someone. For example, we have recommended, and so have some of our partners, that police departments create a database of officers who have wrongfully used force against someone. In most CBAs, releasing that kind of information is limited and sometimes not an option. The CBA also influences the health, wellness, and effectiveness of police officers. For example, the CBA lays out when officers can be tested for mental health issues. The community has a stake in the mental health and wellness of the officers that police it.
Can I have a say in the CBA?
Not officially yet, but VPC and many of our partners think you should be able to. VPC and our partners are advocating for an official process to include community voice in CBA negotiations, but in the meantime, we will collect public input and share it with the people negotiating the new CBA.
Do other cities let residents have input into the CBA?
While the collective bargaining process is not open to public input in St. Louis City, there are other jurisdictions where that is not the case. Other cities have included public input in collective bargaining agreements.
In Austin, Texas, the Austin Justice Coalition, led a grassroots campaign to have a seat at the negotiation table with the mayor and police union. According to the New York Times, after the union backed out of the negotiations in Austin over concerns about the public input and accountability measures, there was no increase in officer retirements which the union had predicted there would be, and in the following summer, “the union swapped out its chief negotiator for one who sought (Austin Justice Coalition’s) input, seeming to understand that the union was actually going to have to compromise." By that fall, the City and the union agreed to a contract with public input.
Portland, Oregon has opened parts of its negotiations to the public with a cross sector group encouraging more openness around negotiations. In the wake of the killing of George Floyd, Minneapolis Police Chief Medaria Arradonda recently paused negotiation with the police union in favor of making what he calls “transformational” reforms and accountability measures. Other states, as well, allow public input into collective bargaining through open meeting laws, open records laws, or public posting of draft contracts.
Why is the CBA an issue now?
The City’s CBA for police officers expired on June 30, 2020. For the first time, the union, police department, and City are renegotiating the CBA as two pieces- one about pay & benefits and the other about policing policies. This renegotiation process will take time, which allows VPC and our partners to collect public input which we will provide to all the groups who are negotiating the new CBA.
Why is VPC collecting this information?
Last year, we talked to community members at 4 listening sessions, interviewed police officers, and did an online survey with almost 1,200 responses. One of the most common themes we heard from both community members AND police officers, was the need for more transparency. Residents need to know and trust the officers that police them. Police officers need to know that the department is sharing necessary information with community. One important way to increase transparency and effectiveness is to have public input into the CBA, one of the most important documents that governs policing in the City. When residents feel like police departments are transparent, accountable, and share vital information, this builds trust between police and the community they serve. Trust improves neighborhood feelings of safety and can lower violence. For example, violent crime in Austin, TX dropped 8% from 2017 to 2018 and rebounded about 4% in 2019. Still, the rate after the CBA change is lower than before it, reversing a trend of increases in violent crime since 2013.
What kind of things will we be I be asked about?
We heard from BOTH community residents and police officers that they were concerned about things like:
How do we recruit, retain, and promote police officers who want to engage with residents and improve relationships?
How can the police department be more transparent and share information with the communities they police?
What can police do to meaningfully engage community residents, especially youth, to improve relationships?
Are there ways to get help without calling the police? How can residents get help with issues in their area without calling the police or in addition to police response?
We will be asking about these topics and also how people would like to participate in an official process for community voice in the CBA process.
How can I provide feedback on the CBA?
We are collecting information in several ways:
We have an online survey that will be open through September 25.
We will be posting poll questions on our social media (@stlareavpc on Twitter and Facebook) during the week of September 14. Please note, your contact information may be visible if you participate in these questions and discussions.
We are hosting a Town Hall on Thursday, September 24 from 6-7:30pm. You can register here.
Will anyone know what I answered on the online survey?
We are not asking for any contact information. When we provide the information to the people who are negotiating the CBA, the answers will be grouped together. We may use quotes from some short answers, but we won’t provide any contact information on who participated.
What will you do with the information?
We will provide the information we collect in a report to all of the groups involved in negotiating the CBA including Chief Hayden, St. Louis Police Officers’ Association, Mayor Krewson, and Public Safety Director Judge Jimmie Edwards. The report will also include background on our listening sessions, police officer interviews, and online survey from 2019 that highlighted the community demand for greater transparency and accountability from the police department. The report will be shared with the community on our website and those of our partners.
Where can I learn more?
We have several partners who are also working on public input into the CBA process. You might find some of their resources helpful, too.
Forward Through Ferguson is hosting The Power Behind the Badge: Understanding Policing & Power Virtual Community Teach-In Series that will focus on “the people, policies, and processes that influence how both St. Louis City and St. Louis County's police departments are funded and operated.” They also created some tools to help residents understand how public safety decisions are made and how the budget is spent on safety.
Several groups have officially requested the CBA document from the City Police. One place where you can read the agreement in full is on the Grassroots Accountability Movement's page.
If you have additional questions, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.