UPDATE: The city of San Jose came to an agreement on tier-2 retirement benefits with the POlice Officers Association on Thursday afternoon, avoiding Friday’s arbitration hearing.
San Jose faces a $2.9 billion unfunded liability in pension and retiree healthcare costs. The figure is mind-boggling. The city still has to figure out how to afford those unfunded obligations. But that’s another story for another time. On Friday, the public—for the first time—will have a chance to sit in on arbitration hearings that have been held previously behind closed doors, when the city negotiators sits across the table from San Jose’s police union.
In late 2010, Measure V met voter approval, opening up arbitration hearings between the city and unions.
If the city and the Police Officers Association reach an agreement on reduced benefits for future hires before that time, the matter won’t even reach a binding interest arbitration session. If it comes to that, however, arbitration will be held both Friday and possibly Monday. If the POA and the city remain at a stalemate over a successor memorandum of agreement on wages and other issues, they will meet for arbitration on May 6, 7 and 8.
Retired Santa Clara County Superior Court Judge John A. Flaherty is appointed to the neutral chair of the board while Deputy City Manager Alex Gurza and POA President Jim Unland will represent each side. Unland did not immediately return a call for comment.
The morning start time might be inconvenient for most working folks. City spokesman David Vossbrink says the sessions won’t be broadcast.
“No television,” he says. “It will run similar to a court proceeding, with [a] court stenographer, witnesses, testimony [and] advocates.”
Rehardless, the meeting presents a good opportunity for the public to attend in a show of civic responsibility. As a Merc editorial put it: “You voted for it. Now show up.”
WHAT: Police Officers Association arbitration with the City of San Jose
WHEN: 9:30am Friday
WHERE: City Hall, 200 E. Santa Clara St., San Jose
INFO: City Clerk, 408.535.1260