Contract talks between Minneapolis police union, city likely headed to mediation

Negotiations on a new contract for Minneapolis Police Department officers could soon go to a mediator.

Contract negotiations began in September, and the Police Officers Federation of Minneapolis (POFM) — the union representing the city’s officers — filed a request for a mediator with the state Bureau of Mediation Services earlier this month.

MPD’s previous contract expired at the end of 2022 and has been extended through contract talks. POFM President Sgt. Sherral Schmidt told 5 EYEWITNESS NEWS biweekly negotiation sessions have been “ineffective” to this point.

The police union initially requested an across-the-board 13.25% raise in 2023 for rank-and-file officers, a figure the city said it couldn’t manage.

“The one-year cost for this proposed increase is projected to be over $11 million dollars. That is an excessive amount that the Federation knows the City cannot afford to pay in one year,” the city said in a response to the union’s proposal.

In October, the union came back to the table with incremental semi-annual raises totaling 25% by July 1, 2025. The city countered with wage increases totaling 16.5% over that period.

Minneapolis Police Chief Brian O’Hara has stressed the need for competitive pay as a remedy for his department’s staffing challenges. MPD is down more than 300 officers since 2020, and according to city data, there were 579 sworn officers out of a funded force of 731 as of last month.

Last month, the city and the union reached a tentative agreement on hiring and retention bonuses that would award up to $18,000 over two and a half years for current officers and up to $15,000 in incentives for new hires who stay for the same period. A week later, City Council members rejected the deal.

City Council opponents balked at the cost of the program — an estimated $15 million, taken from a $19 million pool of one-time state funding — and said there is a lack of evidence that similar incentives in other cities worked to retain officers.

Schmidt says she believes mediation is necessary to avoid another such blow to the negotiation process.

“We spent weeks negotiating recruitment and retention bonuses that the City Council rejected,” she wrote in an email to 5 EYEWITNESS NEWS. “We believe that any negotiated agreement agreed will meet the same fate. The POFM believes that the most efficient path forward to settling a contract will be through the mediation process.

“We look forward to negotiating a fair contract that includes the competitive wages and benefits many of the City Council members mentioned, during their testimony, as important pieces to recruiting and retaining officers in the City of Minneapolis,” Schmidt added.

A Minneapolis spokesperson said the city “looks forward to continuing the bargaining process with the Police Federation during mediation” if the Bureau of Mediation Services determines a mediator would help move negotiations along.