OAKLAND — Members of the Police Department voted Friday to join a union, after a months-long discussion that at first shocked Town Manager Gary Bowman and later might have implications for the municipal budget.

Patrol officers voted to join the Maine Association of Police in a 6-0 vote, according to the Maine Labor Relations Board, joining a group of 50 municipal police associations and about 1,000 members, including the nearby Waterville and Winslow police departments.

The association was founded in 1975 and works to represent law enforcement personnel at the legislative and local levels. The group provides legal representation and advice, representation for relevant legislation and collective bargaining power. Officials at the association did not respond immediately Friday afternoon to requests for comment.

Neither Oakland police Chief Michael Tracy nor Capt. Rick Stubbert will be part of the union, as they are considered administration.

Members of the Oakland Police Department, as well as Tracy, declined to comment Friday on the vote.

Bowman, who is a former Oakland police officer, said he initially was shocked by the department’s decision to join the union.

Oakland had one of the last non-unionized police departments in the area, he said, and “that was certainly a good thing, in my opinion,” adding later that he voted against joining a union while a police officer because “I enjoyed working as a police officer over there and I didn’t find anything wrong with my paycheck.”

Bowman said Friday he doesn’t know why the police decided to unionize.

“I have known from my lifetime experience that everything in this world comes down to money,” he said, and he would be surprised if this also wasn’t about money.

Oakland police are paid $22.35 per hour and get overtime pay. Bowman said that’s above average for the area, which is about $21.60 for a town of the same size.

Bowman also said, however, that the Maine Association of Police is “one of the better groups,” offering things such as legal representation for the use of deadly force, which is something many officers don’t have. He also acknowledged that the officers at the department now might have different personal circumstances than he did when he worked there.

Bowman said he doesn’t think this will affect the budget for this year, which is mostly put together.

In the future, he said, they’ll have to negotiate, so he wouldn’t say whether it will have an effect.

“I’ve never had to work with a union before,” he said. “It is what it is.”

Madeline St. Amour — 861-9239

[email protected]

Twitter: @madelinestamour

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