POLICE ACCEPT MEDIATION

One week after walking away from the bargaining table and
declaring an impasse, the Police Officers Association agreed to
mediation of their dispute with Santa Barbara city officials
regarding contract negotiations. The police officers are demanding
a 28 percent increase – in both salary and benefits – spread
throughout three years. City officials have responded with a 19
percent offer for the same duration. The union contends city cops
are underpaid relative to their counterparts in comparable cities,
claiming this disparity has contributed to morale problems and a
turnover rate that’s placing public safety at risk. City
negotiators say the raises sought by the police would eat into
emergency reserves. Union efforts to mobilize public
support – first through a telephone campaign and more recently by
ads in the News-Press – have yet to bear substantial
fruit. City Councilmember Helene Schneider described the response
she’s received in terms of phone calls and emails as “a
trinkle.”

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