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By June 12, 2013 Read More →

Final offer: NO RAISES!

City says, “The devil made me do it!”

Jim Unland, president of the San Jose POA

Jim Unland, president of the San Jose POA

San Jose offered no raises to its officers despite the fact that cops are leaving in droves to find other jobs – over 150 officers have left for other agencies in the last 2 years. The city claims they can only offer a zero wage increase.

“We are currently going through binding arbitration on the MOA that  began on July 1, 2013,” explained Jim Unland, who serves as president of the San Jose POA.  “We are in the second  year of a yearly 10% giveback.  The city has taken the position that the giveback is permanent and any salary increases will begin from that reduced amount.  Our position is that the 10% giveback ends at the end of this contract and that we want to be back to our original salary by July 1, 2014. The Mayor and his Council allies have really screwed things up.”

In 2010, the voters of San Jose approved Measure V which severally restricted interest arbitration.

“Instead of a labor arbitrator, we now use a retired Superior Court Judge,” Unland said.  “Measure V changes the way arbitration works.  There is a component to the measure that says the average of the city tax revenue for the previous 5 year period is the benchmark for any benefit increases.  Currently, that number is 1.24%.  Because the city will be paying more for healthcare and pension costs, they have taken the position that their san_jose_secondonly choice is to offer us nothing for a raise.”

“City officials publicly talked about retention and recruitment of police officers then quietly offered a zero-percent pay increase in arbitration,” said Paul Kelly, a board member of the San Jose POA and a veteran officer with the agency.”And instead of the old Flip Wilson line, ‘The devil made me do it,’ the city’s saying, ‘Measure V made us do it.’ ”

Just weeks before the city gave their last best offer at zero, they had dangled the prospect of a 9 percent pay increase to officers to entice a settlement. But San Jose officials said Measure V rules, which voters approved in 2010, prevent arbitrators from raising compensation at rates higher than revenue growth over the past five years. City officials said revenue grew just 1.24 percent in the past five years, while the city expects to pay 4 percent more for officer retirement perks. The claim that is reason enough to keep the arbitrators from giving San Jose cops and other city employees a raise.

“In 2010, when Measure V came before the voters, we joined with Fire and Labor to fight the measure,” Jim Unland notes.  “It was an all hands on deck effort.”

Unland said the group conducted polls, established focus groups, and implemented a well-coordinated political plan including mailers, op-ed pieces, blogs, precinct walking (including police officers).

“Everything there was to do, we did  except for television ads and billboards,” Unland continued. “In the end, it did not matter. The reality of the 2008 downturn was now affecting city government and the voters were in a taking mood. But the good news was, for the first time, our members walked in a picket line. On our best day we had around 50 San Jose cops out there but I want to add that the there were always more firefighters than officers participating.
The effort to educate the members about what was happening was extensive.

“We held town hall type meetings for our members to explain what was going on with our pensions, city budget and layoffs,” Unland said.  “We have a blast email system in place that reaches 95% of our members’ personal emails and we used that extensively. We have our own blog site and we also publish a monthly magazine.
San Jose police along with other city workers agreed to 10 percent pay cuts in 2010 to limit layoffs as they city grappled with record budget deficits spawned by recession-weakened revenues. With revenues recovering, the city has offered small raises in what officials describe as a cautious approach to rebuilding services and a shrunken workforce.

The city’s earlier offer called for a 2.5 percent raise this year, an additional 2.5 percent raise next year assuming city pension reforms survive a court challenge by the police union, and a 4 percent “retention bonus” for officers who agree to stay on the force the next couple years. The union’s final officer is for the city to restore the 10-percent pay cut by July 2014.

Posted in: Pay Wars

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