The St. Croix chapter of the Police Benevolent Association issued a Resolution Tuesday declaring no confidence in Gov. Kenneth Mapp’s administration and demanding a meeting with the governor. It says the St. Croix PBA members demand a meeting with the governor by Nov. 1 “to address the administration’s unlawful pay increases to entry level officers only, continuous and unacceptable disrespect by its chief negotiator, and the conditions of employment.
Mapp, who is running for reelection as governor, has increased pay for an array of V.I. government employees with great fanfare several times this year. Earlier in the year, the V.I. Police Department bumped up starting pay for recruits to $40,953 – more than $15,000 above the $25,248 the VIPD listed as salaries for vacant police officer positions in 2017. These are the raises primarily of concern to the PBA.
July 26, a week before the Aug. 4 Democratic Party Primary, Democratic Sens. Jean Forde, Kurt Vialet and Marvin Blyden issued a press release announcing legislation for a $5,000 increase to the base government salary, bringing it to $25,000 per year. The pay raises were to take effect in October, right before the election. (See Related Links, “Days Before Primary, Forde and Vialet Propose Government Employee Raises,” below.)
Four days later, Mapp, held a press conference trumpeting a slightly larger increase to $27,040 and an array of other government pay raises, implemented by executive order. Those larger pay raises started taking effect sooner, at the beginning of August. The legality of raising pay by executive order was called into question but the Legislature enacted legislation codifying parts of those increases into law.
A week ago, Mapp announced another round of pay increases; a 3 percent bump to about 1,200 non-union, classified and exempt employees. It was made retroactive, ensuring government employees would see the increase in their final paycheck before the Nov. 6 election.
The pre-election raises’ unilateral nature and focus on entry level pay have raised hackles with several unions. Teachers temporarily called off contract negotiations before reaching an agreement this month. Some unions raised the issue with V.I. senators.