Police union blasts mayor for blocking back pay
SIOUX FALLS (AP) — The union representing Sioux Falls police officers is responding to the mayor's roadblock to back pay.
The Fraternal Order of Police wanted a 3 percent wage increase, but the city offered 1.5 percent. State labor officials ruled the city's offer was fair because of softening sales tax revenues. The new terms will take effect March 13.
Mayor Mike Huether and four City Council members opposed applying the wage increase back to Jan. 1, saying it would hinder future labor negotiations, the Argus Leader reported.
Union representative and attorney Tom Wilka said retroactively paying officers on the contract would not have cost any additional dollars because the money was already budgeted for in 2017.
"Mayor Huether, who ironically is on record in several Sioux Falls City Employee Forums boasting about how city workers are one of his biggest priorities, cast the tie-breaking vote to punish the FOP and its membership for exercising their legal rights during the process, and prevented the amendment from being adopted," Wilka said.
Huether dismissed claims that Sioux Falls overextended itself with recent building projects. The mayor said the investments didn't affect the police's wage increase.
The mayor noted that even though he opposed two months of back pay for local law enforcement, Sioux Falls is still among the best places to be a police officer.
"We do pay our team very competitively. ... But there are all these other wants and needs out there as well so you try to find that balance," Huether said. "I think we certainly did that."