A day after the City Council decided to go to the ballot box in June for pension reform, the police union signed a tentative agreement Wednesday with the city of San Jose to extend a 10-percent pay cut through the 2012-13 fiscal year. The agreement will need to be ratified by the Police Officers Association membership. If that is achieved, the POA expects the deal to save the city $25 million.
Voting will begin Tuesday, POA President Jim Unland said, and an arbitration hearing with the city that was scheduled for Monday has been canceled. Unland added that he is hopeful the agreement will prevent any more police officers from being laid off. This past summer, 66 officers were laid off for the first time in city history.
The timing of the deal is surprising considering how upset unionized employees were about the council’s 6-5 vote to have pension reform on the ballot. But Unland said the POA had been working on the deal for several days before Tuesday’s vote.
“I’m trying to not to put the two together,” he said. “I think our actions continue to show we’re trying to find solutions, and I think the actions of the mayor [Tuesday] night show he’s just a political animal. That vote did not have to happen.”
Both Mayor Chuck Reed and the city’s lead negotiator, Alex Gurza, noted in a Mercury News report that the concessions by the POA would remove a major obstacle in balancing next year’s budget. Both, however, maintain that pension reform is key and negotiations should continue.