This week the city of Westbrook has advertised in the Maine Sunday Telegram two job opportunities, one for a police officer and one for an equipment technician. The post was a combined listing, possibly to save the taxpayers money. The police position refers to “competitive wages.” Competitive with whom? The city failed to list the starting salary for the police officer position (which happens to be a modest $13.69 per hour). That serves as their idea of just compensation for risking one’s life, health, and the attendant increase in personal liability exposure that goes with the job.

The ad then goes on to list the salary for the technician position to be between $15.53 per hour and $16.96 per hour. We’re not trying to say that this position isn’t worthy of this pay. In fact, the city employs several people in this position already that do a fine job and are quite deserving of their current pay level, if not more. It’s pretty obvious though that the city wanted to avoid advertising the embarrassingly-low wage that they offer a starting police officer, particularly in contrast with the higher pay of the technician’s position.

It seems intentionally deceptive on the city’s part not to advertise the current starting salary for police officers in Westbrook. How can they honestly think they will get the highest-quality candidates to apply for this position when a potential applicant would be paid $18.79 per hour to start with at Gorham PD, or $14.85 per hour to start with at Scarborough PD, just for example.

This is a prime example of how poorly the city’s administration has treated the members of the Westbrook Police Association. They have continually bargained in bad faith, or just refused to bargain at all. They have never wavered in their demands that we accept the same wage and insurance offer that was made to the other unions in the city, thereby illegally tying our negotiations with those of the other bargaining units. They have gone so far as to lie to the public when it comes to explaining away the union’s desire to improve their retirement package (which would result in a cost savings to the taxpayer) as too expensive, quoting the price to be five times what an actuarial study by the Maine State Retirement System indicated.

Their latest antic was to agree to a contract proposal in principle, only for the mayor to ride in and quash it at the last minute. We wonder if this was a negotiation tool, or just the continuation of the city “sticking it to” the Westbrook Police Association? The mayor claims that his coincidental appearance wasn’t to break the deal, and that he wasn’t responsible for the negotiations falling apart. Well then, who was?

Now we realize this situation doesn’t affect the average citizen, and when someone dials 9-1-1 we show up and provide the best police services available. But if you feel strongly about paying lower taxes (by the city saving money on a better retirement system for the police union) and don’t like it when your elected and appointed city officials try to hide the truth, please contact the mayor’s office and your city councilor through [email protected] and ask why the police union has gone over three years without a contract.

Thank you for your time and support.

The Westbrook Police Association

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