Government employees

Byzantine Civil Service Fight in New Orleans Leads to 20 Percent Raises for Police Officers


New Orleans cop
derek b/flickr

There's an ongoing fight in New Orleans over policies related to public employees. Apparently the mayor, Mitch Landrieu, has tried to implement changes under the "Great Place to Work Initiative." The changes would increase the minimum wage for public employees to $10.10, make it easier to give employees pay raises, and loosen rules requiring hiring managers consider the best qualified candidates for a position. Nevertheless, multiple public unions sued over the initiative, arguing it made the city's civil service less competitive.

The Civil Service Commission originally approved the proposal in August, and earlier this month voted on unspecified changes behind closed doors it said were meant to knock the wind out of lawsuits. No details were made available. After a few weeks of criticism, the Commission decided to vote again, though it has not been transparent about what exactly it voted in favor of the first or second time around. At this week's meeting, however, the Commission also addressed cop pay. As The Lens reports:

Later in the meeting, the commission approved a 20 percent pay raise for police officers, based on a recommendation from the Civil Service Department staff. Under the proposal, officers would receive a 10 percent bump next year, to be followed by 5 percent increases in years two and three.

Landrieu's 2015 budget proposal, however, only accounts for a 5 percent increase, and Landrieu has not committed to continued raises in 2016 and 2017. Funding for the raises will ultimately have to be allocated by the City Council.

Will Landrieu accommodate the generous raise in exchange for less opposition to his attempt to take more control over who is hired to public jobs? No matter who wins, New Orleans residents lose.

The New Orleans Police Department did not face any serious reforms despite a decades-long negative image reinforced by the actions of some cops during and after Hurricane Katrina. A few months ago, cops shot a man they pulled over in the head and "forgot" to tell the media who shot him.