Cops Walk From Bargaining Table

by Nick Welsh

Negotiators with the Police Officers Association declared an
impasse in their contract negotiations with Santa Barbara city
administrators late last week, and by Sunday, had unleashed a new
“robo-call” campaign designed to generate public support for their
cause. City residents, including City Councilmember Roger Horton,
received recorded phone messages from police Sergeant Dave Gonzales
contending that without a pay increase, turnover of experienced
officers would increase and public safety would be compromised. At
the end, callers who wanted to express their support for the union
were asked to press “1.” The police union is reportedly asking for
a 30 percent increase over three years, divvied up between actual
wage increases and benefit enhancements. City administrators are
offering 19 percent during the same period of time, claiming that
the union demands would eat into the city’s emergency reserves.
Some city councilmembers expressed regret that the union declared
an impasse and walked away from the bargaining table after eight
negotiating sessions. They added that their representatives at the
bargaining table had sought mediation, but the union refused. Union
spokesperson Chris Inglehart, however, denied any offer of
mediation had been made. He maintained city police are only seeking
to be paid a wage competitive with their peers in comparable
departments. But councilmembers expressed frustration that the
parties can’t even agree on what constitutes an acceptable list of
comparable departments. It’s not likely the impasse will be broken
any time soon. Most councilmembers are insisting that the entire
council must be present to ratify any new contract, and a full
council will not be in town until after Fiesta in early August.


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