The City Council is likely to adopt a measure today giving itself the authority to vote on a controversial pay increase for District police officers if the mayor fails to send the increase to the council for consideration within 30 days.
City Council member Wilhelmina J. Rolark (D-Ward 8) circulated a memo yesterday indicating that she plans to introduce the bill on behalf of the Fraternal Order of Police. Eleven of the 13 council members have cosponsored the bill, which is aimed at preventing Mayor Marion Barry from continuing his efforts to get the increase, awarded by an arbitration panel, overturned.
Barry has argued that the 15 percent wage increase over three years is too costly.
"We believe the council will approve the award once they are in a position to consider it," said Gary Hankins, head of the police union's labor committee. "I think the mayor has clearly utilized the courts to frustrate the process."
Rolark's emergency bill states that further delay in approval of the arbitration panel's award would create problems for the city.
"The failure of the council to take action with respect to the award could result in a significant disruption of the budget process, a weakening of the collective bargaining impasse resolution process . . . and a serious decrease in the morale and efficiency of the officers and sergeants of the Metropolitan Police Department," the proposed measure states.
The arbitration panel's award would provide police officers with $23 million more in pay and benefits than the Barry administration had been willing to offer.
Instead of sending the award to the council for consideration, Barry filed a lawsuit in D.C. Superior Court seeking to have the award overturned.
Last month, D.C. Superior Court Judge Gladys Kessler said she would not make a final decision on the FOP's request that Barry be forced to submit the pay increase to the City Council for approval until after the District's Public Employee Relations Board has completed a court-ordered review of its earlier decision to uphold the arbitration panel's ruling.
Pay for the District's 3,400 police officers ranges from a starting salary of $19,000 to a top salary of $31,000 after 16 years, Hankins said.
The panel's ruling would give police officers a 4 1/2 percent increase retroactive to October 1984, a 5 percent increase this year, and a 5 1/2 percent increase for 1986.