Penn Police work in a city that ranks in the top 20 nationwide for crime, but they have been working without a contract for nearly two months.
Penn Police's old contract with Penn, which was signed in 2014, expired on July 31.
Negotiations between Penn Police Association and representatives for the Division of Public Safety and for Penn Human Resources began earlier this summer, but the groups involved have yet to come to an agreement.
PPA President Eric Rohrback said that the two issues currently preventing an agreement are the officers’ salaries and pensions.
According to data supplied by the Penn Police Association, Penn Police officers make less than their counterparts at Stanford, Princeton, Rutgers, MIT, Harvard and Yale. They currently have an average starting salary of less than $52,000 and a max annual salary of less than $65,000.
He said certain facilities workers at Penn with much less dangerous jobs make more money than Penn Police officers, making some officers feel unappreciated.
“The guy that screws in the light bulb for the President of the University makes more than us, and we protect the whole university,” he said.
He also said that although Penn Police have had lower morale due to the ongoing contract situation, officers will continue to perform their duties.
This is not the first time the PPA has tried to negotiate a new contract. It previously attempted to do so when its contract expired in 2014, but it eventually acquiesced to the University’s salary limits, Rohrback said.
According to Rohrback, the negotiations in 2014 resulted in a 3 percent raise to base salary, but PPA was looking for a greater increase.
He said that in 2014, although PPA representatives wanted to negotiate higher pensions, Penn representatives requested that they put off the discussion until this year and did not make any changes to pension amounts.
“We are in the process of ratifying a new contract between the Penn Police Association and the University," Vice President for Public Safety Maureen Rush said in an email. "Initial negotiations began back in early June, as our goal was to resolve this well in advance of the expiration date."
"The current proposal results from many conversations, and we believe it meets our common goals. It was submitted to the representatives of the Penn Police Association, who continue their evaluation and review," she added.
Rohrback said that since the negotiations have been unproductive so far, PPA is working on publicizing their efforts through advertisements urging students to ask the University to “compensate their police department fairly.”
"We appreciate that all the women and men of Public Safety continue to demonstrate their dedication to the safety and security of the Penn community,” Rush said.
All comments eligible for publication in Daily Pennsylvanian, Inc. publications.