Oakland police union votes to approve new contract with city
on July 7, 2011
The Oakland Police Officers’ Association voted to approve a new contract today that it says will save the City of Oakland $65 million over the next four years.
Last week, the Oakland City Council reached agreements with local unions, including the Police Officers’ Association, intended to close the city’s $58 million budget gap. The agreements with the police and firefighter unions were tentative, however, until union members could vote on the agreement. The police department’s 10-day voting period expired today; voting for the firefighters’ union contract closes at midnight tonight.
According to the contract approved today, police officers will now pay 9 percent of their salaries toward their pensions, a concession Mayor Jean Quan has been pushing for since she took office earlier this year. Police officers previously had not contributed to their pensions, while firefighters contribute 13 percent. Other city employees contribute 8 percent. The city, in return, agreed to make no officer layoffs or furloughs for the duration of the contract, which expires in 2015.
According to union president Dom Arotzarena, the new contract will cost officers between $9,000 to $15,000 a year. “These police officers are digging down deep in their pockets in this time of need,” he said. “Hopefully now the leaders of this city can make public safety its priority and we can start tackling some of these huge issues we have in town when it comes to homicides and robberies.”
The new contract with city includes a provision that states that a 4 percent raise that was scheduled to go into effect in January, 2013 will now be deferred to a 2 percent raise in July, 2014 and another 2 percent raise in January, 2015. It also includes the elimination of paid holidays, a freeze on salary increases after six years with the department, and a new pension plan and lower salaries for new hires. The contract maintains a four-days-a-week, 10-hour-day schedule for officers.
The Oakland Police Department is still facing an attrition rate expected to equal about five to six officers a month for the duration of the contract. So even with the rehiring this summer of 22 of the 80 officers who were laid off last year, the department could very well could shrink further. The department currently has 636 officers, down from 809 two years ago. Yesterday, when announcing a department reorganization, Chief of Police Anthony Batts said the department does not have “the capacity to deal with the demand we have in the City of Oakland.”
If the current rate of attrition is maintained, there could be 60 fewer officers in Oakland in 2013, Arotzarena confirmed. “We need a significant force out here just to tackle day-to-day issues,” Arotzarena said. “We have many problems here.”
Now that they have agreed to the concessions, the union wants to prevent further changes to officers’ wages. A provision in the new agreement says that if the city council attempts to modify or eliminate a section of the city charter that resolves wage disputes through arbitration, the concessions in this contract are off.
“We bought labor peace,” said Rocky Lucia, the union’s lawyer. “It’s important that we now go forward with the city because there are troubled waters ahead. We want to have labor peace to maneuver through the challenges that this city is going to have.”
Mayor Jean Quan and Oakland City Council President Larry Reid could not be reached for comment this afternoon.
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