San Jose City Council to Vote on Police Pay, Pension Deals

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.

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.

Screen Shot 2015-08-17 at 12.16.55 PM

Source: City of San Jose

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:

WHAT: City Council meets
WHEN: 1:30pm Tuesday
WHERE: City Hall, 200 E. Santa Clara St., San Jose
INFO: City Clerk, 408.535.1260

Jennifer Wadsworth is the former news editor for San Jose Inside and Metro Silicon Valley. Follow her on Twitter at @jennwadsworth.


  1. Disappointing coverage.

    1. What is the cost of the proposed settlement? POA arbitration hearing put additional cost at about $24M / year to satisfy POA.

    2. What’s the source of the money? Liccardo says no service cuts, no tax hike. Are we dipping into reserves? Borrowing?

    3. “will save an estimated $1.7 billion over the next three decades, in part by switching to a more affordable health plan.”
    – Could SJ switched without Measure B? If so, a misleading claim.
    – Provide source of savings. Projections beyond 5 years become increasingly speculative. Remember the “savings” the new city hall was to achieve? But no one could provide actual savings when Grand Jury inquired.

  2. So basically, Liccardo was indeed willing to meet them halfway as he stated long ago, while the POA refused to resume negotiation until this summer.

    • There was clearly a toxic relationship between Reed and Unland. We haven’t seen vitriolic comments since Paul Kelly became president.

      Both may realize rising public disgust and the possibility that both have much to loose unless fixed.

      • >Both may realize rising public disgust

        I tried explaining this to the cops a long time ago here and in person. When you start using slam mail pieces, or making videos of a councilmember doing flips on a trampoline in front of city hall, it starts to paint your side as desperate, willing to do anything. Childish is the word that comes to my mind.

        Anyways, good on Sam for prioritizing this, and getting the whole measure B mess straightened out.

        • Really it is the police that were childish? I imagine it is difficult to hold your tongue when your own mayor is saying you are “feeding at the trough” when you are just trying to do your job and keep the long negotiated pay and benefits. It seems that the childish behavior originated with Mayor Reed in his name calling, bullying, and chicken little cries that the sky is falling. Don’t blame the police for reacting to Mayor Reed or SJI and the MN for their the negative and outright slanted and slanderous portrayal of the police and firemen of SJ.

          • 2 wrongs don’t make a right. Be above reproach. Present your arguments with dignity, or as taxpayer said; “Both may realize rising public disgust and the possibility that both have much to loose unless fixed.”

            Otherwise you’ll be taken as seriously as a roller skating cowboy, a man wearing overalls, or a second cousin to an elected official. Not trying to insult you here, just pointing out the overall public opinion.

          • When the police union-backed candidate publicly calls for a change in leadership of that union during the election, you know you are doing something wrong.

          • True colors shine through. Your post only chastises the employees for being “childish.” A complete picture, which I was trying to give, shows that both sides could have behaved better. In fact, it is incumbent on our elected officials, as fiduciaries to the citizens and employees, to rise above, but they failed miserably. I only point out the flaws in your one sided statement. No need for personal attacks but again that is consistent — you can behave childishly by making personal attacks but no one else can.

          • Your not going to pigeon hole me Cooper with your “True Colors” bs.

            The labor/police side of things has been acting like a bunch of tards when it comes to campaigning for long enough. SCREW YOU. Why is it I deserve a lifetime of cyberbullying? For what? Running for council once? Tell me this isn’t childish.


            Written by a man who claims to be employed by your camp.


            Pull your collective heads out of your a****es for once. Grow the hell up. These tactics tarnish any dignity your campaigns *might* have. I have no reason to respect your campaign tactics after 5 years of being a victim of them.

            I’ve always maintained measure B was flawed, but your camp campaign tactics have been equally flawed.

          • Wow. No wonder you were not elected. Talk about poor judgment and childish behavior. Were you never taught that when you succumb to personal attacks and profanity it is a sign that you do not have the facts on your side and that your audience no longer hears the message you are trying to send? As an aside, I am not a union member nor a SJ City employee. Just an unbiased observer.

        • Chlidish? Rose a marginal candidate who was elected with the endorsement of City employees only flip on them with her support of Reed and Co on Measure B? The Same Rose who in an adult politician manner took to the Grandstand when elected and announced that she was rejecting the traditional taxpayer CALPERS pension for councilmembers and opting instead for the taxpayer paid 401k… only to pull favors to quietly be allowed to opt-in to the the CALPERS pension after once again taking to the grandstand to vote with the majority to Close the CalPERS plan for all council persons going forward?

          There was nothing childish at all about the trampoline ad. It was a free speach political ad that very accurately depicted Rose’ childish NO SELFISH / SELF SERVING political decision making.process. She barely survived the relectionary effort and also showed her childish character when her husband was caught PLO style disposing of her opponents campaign signs… please RMC you can have all the respect in the world for Rose but she has plenty of responsibility to bear for wa sting millions on Measure B after it was clear from its inception that it would never survive. Besides, she’s a big girl and the white knighting for her is nice but she needs to own it

          • I’m not white knighting her at all, I’m just critiquing the lack of decorum applied by the POA when dealing with her. That was Jim Unlands doing (or undoing) Even my cousin Dave agrees that Unland did more harm than good for the SJPD during all these negotiations and called for him to step down from his post.

          • Cortese, your 15 seconds of fame have expired. You lost, move on. Yelling obsentities at fictitious SJI posters is a new low. Perhaps you need to find a hobby instead of staring at a computer screen all day or better yet get a real job. Go outside and take a deep breath. Nobody really is listening to your cyber rants. Move on!

          • Nucking,

            Labor around here means “Police and Fire” along with “UCFW” Their “Political Agent” goes too far. He calls employers and tries to get people fired. It’s been a constant and ongoing cyberbulling since 2010, so excuse me if I’m still ticked off that it’s still happening today.

            If you don’t think that’s going too far, you need to pull your head out too.

    • All this supposed deal settles is some of the political fallout caused by an ill-conceived political end run around collective bargaining between the City of San Jose and its employees, particularly its public safety personnel.

      The “deal” requires voter approval for any increase in retirement benefits???!!!??? This will certainly be viewed by public safety personnel as the end of any significant increase in retirement benefits for San José’s public safety workers and it is obvious. Now, only a ballot measure passed by the voters will permit retirement benefit improvements for police and fire fighters?!? Cops are not politicians but now they will be expected to launch “political campaigns” asking voters for increased compensation!?! The folly of this is beyond my comprehension!!! Collective bargaining was designed to remove politics from public safety, now it will require it!!!

      Demagoguing politicians will certainly persuade the public, as they did with Measure B, that retirement benefits for public safety personnel are already too lucrative and will ignore or disregard the fact that cops and fire fighters do not get bonuses, commissions, profit sharing, 401k accounts, stock options and so many of the other benefits so prevalent in the private sector and that a secure retirement is what cops and firemen accept in exchange. Cops and firemen cannot; do not; and would not go on strike so they rely on goodwill and good faith bargaining in order to attain a fair level of compensation.

      Rose Hererra is offering an opportunity for “estranged” public safety personnel to return to SJPD by allowing them to maintain the same old “bankrupting” retirement plan they left with, rather than receiving the lesser benefits that are now in place for new hires? Good luck luring any of the experienced officers into sticking their hands into that bear trap. As well, newer officers, those who are currently employed with retirement compensation that Herrera’s offer tacitly admits are inferior, will undoubtedly still leave in droves after they accumulate enough experience, training and professional certifications (at City expense) that will enable them to go to work for other agencies that provide far better compensation.

      Here’s the best part of this wonderful new agreement. Any veteran cop naive enough to return to SJPD will receive a re-signing bonus (approximately $5000), but if that officer subsequently leaves the department (I’m not sure within what exact time period), he or she will be required to pay that money back! It is analogous to posting bail to prevent an officer from leaving!

      It sickens me to see what has happened to a once excellent police department whose bones now lay bleaching on the plains of the political self-interest of people like former mayor Reed and current mayor Liccardo.

      • Thank you for your service and fact-based comments here.

        Am wondering about incoming recruits relative to departures and outlook. Are sworn head count increasing, decreasing, or about the same? What’s the forecast?

        I seem to remember Jim Unland cautioning that SJPD was continuing to shrink plus loosing seasoned officers and skills. Also, imagine that the answer may not be simple if community service staff and others are backfilling sworn staff.

        Lastly, know where SJPD response times are posted? The last figure I saw (at Reed’s last State of City) gave priority 2 at about 3X the target. Seems like one measure of adequate staffing are response times, but can’t find any updates on CSJ web site.

  3. Look at the Measure B language versus what actually happened in San Jose:

    “To protect essential services, including neighborhood police patrols, fire stations, libraries, community centers, streets and parks, shall the Charter be amended to reform retirement benefits of City employees and retirees by: increasing employees’ contributions, establishing a voluntary reduced pension plan for current employees, establish pension cost and benefit limitations for new employees, reform disability retirements to prevent abuses, temporarily suspend retiree COLAs during emergencies, require voter approval for increases in future pension benefits?”

    Measure B did the *opposite* of what voters were tricked into voting for. Rufas gReed (and Sham Lie-car-doh) are liars, plain and simple.

    The Police and Fire Departments are practically ruined. Libraries and Community centers still understaffed and reduced hours. Streets are potholed. Parks full of homeless.

  4. Taxpayer….it’s all smoke and mirrors. Make sure you know who and what you are voting for.

    They say they saved $25 million but did they tell you they spent more then that on overtime (just for the PD).

    • Yes, thanks. Am painfully aware of the deceitful “savings” claims – and why I’m skeptical of claimed $1.7B savings over 30 years.

      And am baffled how it will be funded. AFAIK, SJ has not implemented any of the suggested recommendations that were identified to save about $145M / year – more than 2X revenue from last year’s sales tax proposal.

  5. Glad to see the City and the POA are moving in a positive direction. Josh: rather a show of bias that your photo caption credited Sam but not the police representative with whom he was shaking hands. Interesting body language on the remainder of the folks—four with their hands in the “fig leaf” position, and one (is that Rocha?) with hands behind the back, one picking his nose, and a neutral with hands at sides. Ridiculous of Sam to assert savings over a 30 year period just to make the dollar number bigger. So, we now have yet another number of sworn officers still on board, and have been given a much lower number of budgeted “positions” than there were in 2012.

  6. As has been true from the start on this site and proves true today, this issue has been treated to analysis that had more to do with high comedy than fact.

    — That the POA refused to meet Liccardo to resume negotiations.
    Given that it is not possible to engage in legitimate negotiations when one side will only do so if the other agrees to go in while handcuffed (Liccardo’s demand of the POA for dollar-saving guarantees before sitting down), it is laughable to blame the POA for the costly and life-threatening delays in ridding this city of the great stink of Chuck Reed’s administration.

    — There was clearly a toxic relationship between Reed and Unland.
    There is perhaps no higher compliment one could pay Mr. Unland than to acknowledge his inability to get along with a tyrannical, compulsive liar who not only denied and insulted the doomsayers, but continued to do so well after the doom had become undeniable. Chuck Reed was destroying the police department and putting Mr. Unland’s association members in increasing peril; to “get along” with that obstinate fool would require going along with his destructive policies — to no good end.

    — The POA behaved childishly.
    Should you hear hysterical screams and fists pounding on the wall and conclude it to be the neighbor’s child having a tantrum you might want to consider that it might be the neighbor burning to death, for those are the things that burning people do. If the POA’s leadership was indeed guilty of screaming hysterically and pounding its fists who could rightly blame them? Their membership was under assault by way of lay-offs, wage cuts, dangerous working conditions, contribution rate increases, accelerated retirements, unprecedented uncertainty, and a public campaign of vilification. They had no power to compel negotiations, no power to withhold their labor, and no objective news outlet on which to make their case public. Personally, I think its remarkable that the membership was able to keep its desperation and anger confined to politicking.

    — Sam prioritized settling Measure B.
    Hilarious. Tantamount to seeing your couch potato neighbor’s house in smoldering ruin and then complementing him for finely getting out and getting some fresh air.

    • Finfan,
      The toxic relationship comment was not intended as a criticism – just an observation. I know Chuck Reed & Jim Unland.

      Chuck is astute. I’m baffled as to why he and Sam chose the Measure B route when there were other practical and attainable alternatives. Proof points include proposals backed by actuarial analyses that were sent to me by unions – but *NOT* disclosed when I filed public records requests.

      I expect unions to act in their self-interest and city leadership to act in the public’s interest. All the information I’ve seen indicates that city leadership knew they weren’t and steamrolled B anyway.

      • Taxpayer:

        Chuck astute? Come on.

        I can see why you are baffled with Chuck Reed. He is out of office and he continues down this path of destruction. I’m less baffled with Mayor LIccardo. Sam knew exactly what he was doing. The public sentiment at the time was (is) that public employees make too much and the pensions are not feasible. Sam jumped on that band wagon and that of Measure B. It was all for political gain. Perhaps astutley, Sam has now used the Measure B folly to his benefit. He has fixed the problem that he created. Yippie.

        Cortese said he would fix the problem and he was labeled a union candidate. Politics is an interesting beast.

        So yes, Taxpayer, the leadership (or the lack there of) knew they weren’t acting in the public interest. Council Member Rocha pens a memorandum on the subject. I’m not convinced he didn’t go down that path for political gain himself.

        Rocha Memo

      • …and it’s the unions who are repeatedly tarred with wasting tax dollars???

        So why would Reed pursue this route and Sam follow right behind until someone with sense got to him? Ego? Spite?

        • Meyer Weed, I don’t know his motivation. Misplaced trust in advisors might be another aspect.

          What bothered me most about Measure B is the sense that employees were too blame and without seriously evaluating alternative solutions. Or benchmarking other cities that found themselves in a similar plight.

          I hope someone will write a research paper on it so others can avoid our mistakes.

  7. Follow the millionaire money trail…. Then you will understand what drives Chuck Reed. Yes he has a nice little Prius parked in the driveway of his modest home but looks are deceiving. Reed needs to remove his Democrat mask once and for all.. The charade has gone on long enough. The Koch Bros and and Arnold Foundation have their grimy fingerprints all over this fiasco. The winners are the attorneys who just swindled every SJ resident out of dollars that could have provided much needed services.

  8. To set the record straight… These are NOT pay raises!!! SJPD, SJFD and all other bargaining units within the City of San Jose VOLUNTARILY gave up 10% of their pay back in 2008 to help the city with hard economic times. THIS IS RESTORATION OF PAY, NOT A PAY RAISE!!! Once again MN / SJI / and most other media groups do a sloppy, pathetic job of reporting the facts. The same old BS continues with these pathetic reporters.

  9. Taxpayer,
    Exactly! SJPD and SJFD will not receive an ACTUAL PAY RAISE until I believe 2018. So even simpletons can do the math. 2008, 10% VOLUNTARY pay reductions for all City employees. 2015, restoration of 8%-10% pay for PD & Fire. 2018, 4.5% actual pay raise for PD & Fire. That is a 10 year period with ZERO pay raises for most city employees. This certainly does not factor in cost of living increases over the past 10 years, plus the continual employee contribution increases for their pension and medical benefits over the past 10 year period. This very crooked City is laughing all the way to the bank on the backs of very dedicated, hard working City employees who decided not to jump ship. Thanks Jennifer for your misleading article. You missed your calling, you should have been an attorney instead of a sloppy reporter. You would have fit in with your other attorney buddies, Joke Liccardo and X-Mayor Greed.

  10. Larry Smith wrote: “Thanks Jennifer for your misleading article. You missed your calling, you should have been an attorney instead of a sloppy reporter.” Yet another insult to attorneys. Attorneys would be sued out of existence by their clients and disbarred if they were as sloppy as Jennifer often is. The City announced the agreements as raises, and Jenn just used their chosen word without thinking it through. So, is she merely lazy, or is she biased toward the City’s point of view? Neither is acceptable for a reporter. And apparently her editor was asleep at the wheel, or equally lazy or biased. Opinion disguised as news reporting.

    • Nate,

      Please explain??? Not really sure where you are coming from in regards to retirees getting sold out??? If you could provide some factual information and a link to that information that would be great…

      • I’m sure Nate means well but it would seem that his coat hanger and aluminum foil hat has fallen off and that he has been mixing his psych medication with fortified wine or “pruno” again.

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