The San Jose police union quietly asked to reopen contract negotiations this past week in hopes of securing a salary bump for its more than 1,000 officers.
In an Oct. 16 letter uploaded Tuesday to the city’s website, San Jose Police Officers’ Association (POA) President Sgt. Paul Kelly asked local officials to “meet and confer over compensation increases.” The missive addressed to San Jose Director of Employee Relations Jennifer Schembri avails the union of its right to strike up bargaining again after eschewing any changes to the labor agreement after it expired on June 30.
At the time the contract expired this past summer, the city was roiled in protests against police brutality and critical attention over SJPD’s violent response to demonstrators. Meanwhile, the city was staring down the barrel of massive budget deficits because of the pandemic-related economic slowdown.
Kelly notes that the union agreed to continue the existing contract without any pay bumps to give the city “breathing room until greater economic certainty returned.”
While nothing’s yet certain about San Jose’s economic prospects, Sgt. Kelly thought this an opportune time for a bargaining redux.
In his letter, Kelly touts the sacrifice made by officers working on the public safety frontlines during a pandemic, risking their health while many others enjoy the benefits of telecommuting.
Then came the protests, Kelly goes on to state.
In late May through early June, SJPD came under fire for reacting to demonstrations against George Floyd’s killing by tear-gassing protesters and pelting them with rubber bullets. In Kelly’s telling, officers “protected the right of protesters to march.”
“And when some chose to riot in our streets,” he went on to write, “more than 100 of our officers suffered physical injury while protecting the city and its citizens.”
Though a date has yet to be set, the union said it’s ready to strike up negotiations immediately.