Collective Bargaining and Job Benefits in Florida Municipal Police Agencies, 2000–2009


While a recent analysis of unionization among Florida county sheriff deputies was informative, that study failed to provide a comprehensive picture of all law enforcement unionization activity in that state. More specifically, county sheriff offices account for only 20 % of all local law enforcement agencies in the state, represent approximately half the sworn personnel in Florida, and have only been engaged in collective bargaining for the past ten years. As a result, the present study incorporates municipal police agencies, a hitherto neglected portion of the Florida law enforcement community, in an effort to gain a fuller understanding of how unionization influences salaries and other job conditions. The results underscore the importance of adopting a broader orientation to understand the progression of collective bargaining objectives.

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  1. 1.

    The 2000 Florida Legislature enacted special bills to permit collective bargaining representation in the Broward, Charlotte, Escambia, Jacksonville, Miami-Dade, and Volusia SOs. Additional legislation in 2001 granted similar privileges to the Flagler, Monroe, and Nassau SOs. W. M. Doerner and W. G. Doerner (2010) wisely excluded these nine agencies from their analysis because the Coastal Florida PBA decision could have no possible impact on these departments.

  2. 2.

    DiPasquale and Wheaton (1992) introduced the idea of connecting four related events into a single, four-quadrant model while examining real estate markets. Here, we adapt their model to the topic of police unionization.

  3. 3.

    The original plan was to include four more dependent variables in the current study. Those indicators included the number of paid holidays, personal days, sick days, and vacation days granted to employees. However, these data were riddled with missing information. The number of absent observations for each variable was 69, 152, 162, and 223, respectively. FDLE apparently took steps to address this issue because none of these variables exhibited any missing data in the 2007, 2008, and 2009 reports. However, the decision was made to refrain from looking at these variables because the missing values were concentrated in the first 7 years of the series, effectively truncating the study period to just the last 3 years of the series.

  4. 4.

    Nominal starting salary is reported. Values in the analysis are converted to real 2009 dollars using the annual non-seasonally adjusted consumer price index (CPI) for all Urban Consumers in the South urban area as reported by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).

  5. 5.

    A total of 23 observations out of a possible 2,370 salary data points were missing. Following the lead of W. M. Doerner and W. G. Doerner (2010), the absent entries were converted into usable data by averaging the reported salaries from the preceding year and the subsequent year.

  6. 6.

    There were 48 instances in which DROP observations were not available. All these missing values were reconciled by converting them into the regularly occurring values in the ongoing series.

  7. 7.

    Missing values for buy-backs existed in 45 cases and these were converted according to the pattern observed in a series of ongoing values. However, 14 cases could not be resolved because they exhibited opposing values in the year prior to and in the year after the errant case. They are treated as unusable or missing data.

  8. 8.

    The original longevity information contained 40 missing cases. Because they were part of an identifiable ongoing series, 27 cases were converted into usable data. That left 13 instances which could not be resolved satisfactorily. They are treated as unusable or missing data.

  9. 9.

    The researchers were able to resolve all but one of the 38 missing cases regarding a shift differential supplement.

  10. 10.

    There were 41 tuition reimbursement cases that exhibited missing values. The researchers were able to reconcile 29 values because they were part of an ongoing series of consistent values. However, 12 cases were indeterminate and remained as missing data.

  11. 11.

    Another agency trait was pursued, but later dropped from consideration. That variable dealt with the education level agencies sought in recruits. The thinking was that agencies that required incoming personnel to hold a college degree would pay a premium for this attribute. Unfortunately, the observed variation was insufficient to be of much utility. Only 11 % of the agencies in the study group expected new officers to possess either a 2- or 4-year college degree.

  12. 12.

    A thwarted effort was made to tap a standard measure of fiscal capacity that commonly appears in the literature. Previous studies (Briggs et al., 2008; Wilson et al., 2006; Zhao & Lovrich, 1997) have analyzed the number of per capita dollars local governments expend on police protection. An earlier analysis of Florida county sheriff offices attempted to include such a measure. However, W. M. Doerner and W. G. Doerner (2010) had to abandon that path after encountering numerous obstacles with the data. The present study met with a similar fate. Although local municipalities provide the Florida Department of Financial Services with annual fiscal reports, the values displayed extreme fluctuations for no apparent reason and these instabilities could not be remedied independently.

  13. 13.

    Although Florida municipal police departments began unionizing in 1968 (Pynes & Corley, 2006), the present study tracks union status only from 2000 onward and sets the clock at that point. In addition, a handful of agencies voted to decertify or oust their current labor representative. PERC will not allow these agencies to select another labor representative for at least one calendar year. As a result, the tenure clock was reset for agencies that decertified and then re-certified another union. Two agencies (Bunnell and Davenport) went through this process once, while one department (Mulberry) changed union representation twice. Eight other agencies decertified completely.

  14. 14.

    An original intent of the present study was to assess the impact of diffusion upon subsequent unionization. Based upon a contagion model, one might expect proximity to an agency that already engages in collective bargaining would help explain the spread of unionization. In other words, observing the success of neighboring departments in winning labor concessions would encourage non-unionized agencies to reconsider their collective bargaining stance. Unfortunately, the inability to track the date when a union came into existence from 1968 through 2000 rendered it impossible to pursue this line of inquiry.

  15. 15.

    There are no missing cases for the state accreditation variable.

  16. 16.

    Two cities had missing observations for 2009. These values were rectified by averaging their 2008 and 2010 violent crime rates.

  17. 17.

    The annual correlations between city (25,000+ population) and county unemployment rates for 2000 are 0.76 (n = 63), 0.69 for 2001 (n = 63), 0.58 for 2002 (n = 61), 0.58 for 2003 (n = 61), 0.37 for 2004 (n = 60), 0.34 for 2005 (n = 60), 0.50 for 2006 (n = 59), 0.63 for 2007 (n = 59), 0.68 for 2008 (n = 54), and 0.54 for 2009 (n = 54).

  18. 18.

    Household income is adjusted for inflation in the same manner as starting salary.

  19. 19.

    Recent criminological literature promoting panel data analysis has raised concerns about autocorrelation, heteroskedasticity, and unobserved heterogeneity (Worrall, 2010). The current study addresses the first two worries using robust standard errors clustered on counties in linear panel regressions and bootstrapping in logistic panel regressions. The last issue is overcome partially by using municipal-level fixed effects (and clustering standard errors at the county-level for cross-sectional heterogeneity) and partially with a year trend (for temporal heterogeneity). If the data had permitted, the panel analysis could have been enriched in other ways. For example, the economics literature has long suggested a simultaneous link between unions and benefits (see Ashenfelter & Johnson, 1972). A police organizational story might be that certain types of agencies pursue collective bargaining agreements because of their relative levels (or lack of) benefits. In turn, the unions argue on behalf of officers and obtain more benefits. Unfortunately, the data limited the current analysis in two dimensions: few newly unionized agencies and a short period for collective bargaining. The first aspect is problematic because nearly all unionized agencies (85 %) began engaging in collective bargaining prior to 2000. The second dimension is tricky because collective bargaining efforts typically take multiple years between union mobilization activities, contract negotiations, and achieving any demonstrable results. In the future, a study that utilizes a longer panel might be in a position to address these ideas by regressing on simultaneous equations or salary differences prior to and after unionization.

  20. 20.

    Another approach to including a year measurement is to use binary variables for each year, or year dummies instead of a trend. The interpretation would change to a non-linear impact that can be unique in each year instead of a constant marginal effect. Practically, one would expect real salary increases to be relatively similar across time when smoothed over labor contracts. With the exception of the first year in the current database, this is true. The average real salary increase over time is $417 and a regression with the constant year trend returns an estimate of $413. For these reasons, a year trend is used instead of year dummies. We also tried estimations with interactions between the year trend and union status to test whether union gains differ across time. The results resemble those shown in Table 4 and support the idea that unions secure more gains during periods of economic growth. Further results are available upon request.


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Correspondence to William G. Doerner.

Additional information

The authors would like to extend their appreciation to the anonymous reviewers for their intriguing comments that forced us to grapple with several interesting issues and refine our focus. The analysis and conclusions in this article are those of the authors and do not necessarily represent the views of FHFA or the United States.

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Doerner, W.M., Doerner, W.G. Collective Bargaining and Job Benefits in Florida Municipal Police Agencies, 2000–2009. Am J Crim Just 38, 657–677 (2013).

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  • Collective bargaining
  • Unionization
  • Salary
  • Job benefits