San Jose reached a tentative salary pact with its police union Friday, after agreeing to settle litigation over voter-approved pension reforms.
The City Council will vote on the two deals Tuesday, hoping to end a years-long exodus that depleted the San Jose Police Department as officers defected to cities with better pay and pensions.
Tentative agreement w/ SJPOA.We'll increase pay w/o reducing city services,w/o increasing taxes,w/o cutting officers. pic.twitter.com/HlRwqAF2xS
— Sam Liccardo (@sliccardo) August 15, 2015
Under the proposed pay agreement with the Police Officers' Association (POA), cops will get a 5 percent “retention” bonus and an 8 percent raise over the next 16 months. In addition, former officers who return to the force in the next year can claim a 5 percent signing bonus.
“This wage agreement provides the means—without breaking the budget—at a time of unique opportunity to reverse the diminishing size of our force, and improve police response for our residents,” Mayor Sam Liccardo said in a prepared statement Friday. “While not a panacea, this long-overdue investment in our police officers will mark this agreement as the advent of the restoration of San Jose Police Department’s prominence as our nation’s finest.”
The labor deal also includes provisions to keep officers in the highest-crime neighborhoods in place for a whole year instead of rotating shifts every six months. Longer rotations will give police a chance to develop relationships with the community they're assigned to patrol, according to the city. Under the new contract, officers who speak more than one language will get a boost in bilingual pay.
Meanwhile, the city plans to resolve conflict with police and fire unions over pension reforms by putting the issue back on the ballot. Measure B—passed by 70 percent of voters in 2012 to curb runaway pension costs—created a lower-tier retirement plan but cost the city $4 million to defend in court. The council agreed to ask a judge to replace the measure with a negotiated deal, then bring those changes back before voters on the November 2016 ballot.
“This was a difficult negotiation where all sides gave and should serve as a testament that collective bargaining is alive and well in San Jose,"said Joel Phelan, President of the San Jose Firefighters, Local 230. "We look forward to getting past the rancor and building on the success of this agreement."
Even with the concessions, San Jose said it will save an estimated $1.7 billion over the next three decades, in part by switching to a lower-cost health plan and eliminating pension bonuses (officially called Supplemental Retiree Benefit Reserve, or SRBR payments). The city said it has realized $25 million in savings from Measure B.
Since 2012, SJPD has had 265 officers resign and 167 retire. This year alone, the department has seen 41 resignations and 54 retirements, leaving the agency with 943 sworn officers out of a budgeted 1,109 positions.
In a strongly worded memo, Councilman Raul Peralez said the city could have avoided the drawn-out fight over Measure B had it negotiated pension reforms in the first place.
“On looking at this comparison, my conclusion is that there was space for us to continue to negotiate back in 2012, instead of putting Measure B on the ballot,” wrote Peralez, a former SJPD officer. “There's no absolute guarantee that we could have reached a negotiated agreement, of course, but if we had been willing to strike the compromise then that we've struck now I think we would have had a pretty good chance. Doing so would have allowed us to avoid a lot of damage to the city organization as well as many impacts to service delivery over the past three years.”
More from the San Jose City Council agenda for August 18, 2015:
- The city will apply for $3.8 million in federal grants to pay for security at the Mineta San Jose International Airport.
- The Internet Cat Video and Film Festival comes to San Jose this November.
WHAT: City Council meets
WHEN: 1:30pm Tuesday
WHERE: City Hall, 200 E. Santa Clara St., San Jose
INFO: City Clerk, 408.535.1260