The Mayor’s Office wants San Diego police officers to participate in mandatory furloughs, drop paid vacation days and give up substantial retirement benefits. The Police Officers Association says the city already saves enough from vacancies in the department and says undoing its controversial DROP program could be illegal.

That’s according to labor negotiation proposals from the city and the POA, copies of which were obtained by The city’s proposal was issued in mid-February and the POA issued a response to the city today.

The two documents are stark in their contrast.

The city’s proposal contains a potpourri of options for the police union to choose from to help the city meet an overall goal of reducing spending on employees by $54 million. The city document methodically lays out a number of expenditure cuts for the department and lists how much each cut would save the city, essentially providing the union with a list of options it can choose from to help save the city money.

Among the options presented to the union:

  • Eliminate the city’s DROP program for all police department employees.
  • Implement a mandatory work furlough for all employees up to a maximum of 12 days per year, at a cost saving of $2.2 million per day of furlough.
  • Delete at least two of the 11 paid holidays for city staff at a cost saving of $1.3 million per holiday day.

POA President Brian Marvel said the city essentially offered the union a host of unpalatable options in an effort to place as much of its financial burden on the department as possible.

“After presenting this to the membership today, a lot of people were angry, a lot of people felt betrayed,” Marvel said.

The POA’s response states that the city is underestimating how much it already saves from hundreds of vacancies at the Police Department. It states:

During the previous negotiation session, the City told SDPOA that $10.9 million in concessions were needed by the SDPOA membership in addition to the already budgeted $15 million the City is scheduled to save from the police vacancy factor.

The SDPOA has calculated that the anticipated budgeted savings from police vacancies would be in excess of $30 million, not $15 million.

In essence, Marvel said, the proposal says that the city is already saving the money it’s asking the department to trim off its employee costs because the city budgets for many more police officers than it currently employs.

The POA’s proposal does offer some concessions: It offers a one-year salary freeze and asks the city to study how much the DROP program and the Police Department’s retiree medical benefits actually cost the city, with a view to discussing the terms of the union’s memorandum of understanding with the city once those studies are completed.

The mayor’s spokespeople couldn’t be reached for comment on the documents. I’ll be in touch with them try to get up their comments tomorrow.

The lack of harmony between the documents illustrates just how far from a compromise the union and the city remain at this stage in the negotiations. With less than a month to go until the deadline for the City Council to vote on the labor agreement, the negotiations seem headed for impasse, as they did for two years running in 2005 and 2006. Police officers received a pay increase of between 8 percent and 9 percent in 2007 and a boost of 6 percent last year.


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