San Diego Officers Prepare To Vote On New Contract
Our top story Mid-Day edition, San Diego police officers are being asked to ratify a tentative deal with the city. Which would boost benefits and pay over the next five years. The $92 million compensation package is aimed at reading the ST PD into more competitive territory with other law enforcement agencies and stop veteran officers from leaving the department. Joining me to discuss our my guess San Diego police Chief Shelley Zimmerman. Welcome to the program. Thank you for having me. Officer Brian marble President of the San Diego police officers Association. Locum. Brian, an independent survey last fall showed that San Diego police were being paid less than many other police agencies in the state. What does this deal do to fix that? One of our competitors is the San Diego Sheriff's office and what we try to do with this contract is make it competitive with that department and also some of the outlying departments so on July 1 of this year, there will be no financial incentive for one of our officers to leave the department to go to another agency. The financial incentive that the police officers are going to have for the next couple of years have mainly to do with benefits and increased allowances for things like uniforms and holiday pay is that right? That is correct. We're trying to stay way from the pensionable items for the next three years and then we get some pensionable salary increases so working within those confines we look at ways that we could elevate take-home pay for our officers that would be competitive in the market and that's what we did. Chief Zimmerman, what Brian is talking about and the freeze on pensionable pay that the city has imposed on city workers for a five-year period of time. Is that why the pay increases don't come sooner? That is correct. We worked with America City Council the city attorney police Officer Association. I am grateful for all of them for their teamwork because it really was a crisis in our police department, and such a challenge in this competitive market for police officers to bring in the best recruits at our Department and keep our highly trained officers right here. By all of them working together, we have put this package together and we believe that it will have positive results. It is already been very favorably received. The pay increase when it kicks in is 3.3% for two years. Each year for two years. And the benefit increases that kick in before that are targeted to officers who have been on the job eight years or more. Why? What we found through the salary survey that was done by the city and through our own analysis was pretty much like the tipping point. People have to realize when you come to the San Diego Police Department, it takes about five and a half to six years. A lot of the other agencies around town like the Sheriff's office, it takes a lot longer. Eight to nine years. What we try to do is we wanted to make everybody as competitive as possible before the eight year mark so the opportunity to go to the Sheriff's office really wasn't there. A lot of officers must be asking you this. What well that actually do for there take-home pay? These increases and holiday pay and a uniform allowance and so forth. How much -- is there an average you are giving these officers about how much this will increase their pay? We are not breaking it out on a per officer bases because each officer has an individual -- in different medical deductions. What we try to do was look at the way that healthcare worked with the city, derive a way where the money that is given to officers to pay for the healthcare so there is no real out-of-pocket expense for that and that actually equates to an increased take-home pay for them. How much? It could vary individually. Some officers will make anywhere from $40 to $50 per pay period more because they're not having to pay for the additional healthcare benefits. The uniform alone's will help offset items we have to purchase on our own so that could also fluctuate but it's a substantial amount of money at the end of the year. Would be hard for an officer to look at how much they are getting in these increased benefit as opposed to let's say the salary rate that the Sheriff's Department would pay them to try to make that kind of analysis Chief Zimmerman? A lot of the officers have said they have left for the Sheriff's Department or other agencies because they did not have to change there were take their kid out of school. ALDA had to do is change their uniform and in many cases, because the way that everything was structured, they were making $1000 more take-home pay compared to our department. It increases their take-home pay. Not necessarily salary for salary but if you take a look at the total, patient package, it increases for short air take-home pay and each officer is different. It takes away that monetary incentive to leave our department now and we can be competitive once again with other agencies. San Diego currently doesn't have as many officers as the city budget allows. Why is that? Part of the reason was if you take a look at last year we were able to hire 160 police officers but 162 left our department for a variety of reasons. If you just take last fiscal year with 162 that left, only 93 of those 162 got a service retirement. Pill rest left for other reasons including to go to other law enforcement agencies or to take their skills to other entities. And so that's why it is so critically important that we recruit the very best that also retain our officers here because again, by hiring 160 if you're going to lose 162 at the end of the year, it is negative to and the investment cost for that first year of an officer is about $191,000. Millions of dollars that taxpayers dollars that were used for that just to have them leave. We are down about -- approximately about 200 officers from what the city budget would allow. Right now as of today and I ran these numbers today, our current city budget for 2013, right now we are 182 below that budgeted number and we are trying to get back to 100 -- 2129 which would be the number before 2000 and when the cut started to happen. That's what we are working toward but we are having an attrition rate, if you take last year of losing 14 officers a month. Currently up to this point we are losing 11 a month but we are hopeful with all of this and we believe that this will stem the tide. There's been some pushback on those numbers. The watchdog group transparent California says I came out with a study 60% of the officers who have left over the past two years have retired and only 10% have left for other agencies. Do disagree with those figures Brian? The person that actually analyzed that, he doesn't understand what has happened to the city over the last 10 years. They're quoting a guy who is on the French who believes the state lists society will bring better benefits for people. We don't try to address those people very often. The numbers bear out what we are saying, because what they are looking at is the raw data of the numbers. They don't know that some of the folks at left, they retired and went to other agencies, which they would have stay here longer but they didn't, they decided that leaving early was a much better situation for them. The goal for us when we developed this contract was want to keep people here. We want to keep -- to spend as long as they can. She Zimmerman? Just recently did an analysis on this and if you take the last two fiscal years, the average years of service for an officer leaving for all reasons was 18 years. And this fiscal year it's already dropped down to 15 years. When we take a look and we analyze all the numbers, not just take one entity of it, it showed that we had a real issue, a real challenge on our police department. Chief Zimmerman Jeff hard data on where the officers are going when they leave the department? Yes, for those that have indicated. This fiscal year, started on July 1 of 2 today. If we take that then we have had a minimum of 16 leave to other law enforcement agencies, 14 of the 16 have gone to local and the majority have gone to the Sheriff's Department. When I say minimum is that when an officer leaves they have no requirement to tell us exactly why they're leaving. So we know that a minimum have said I'm leaving in this is where I'm going. Him we know it is more than that. Given that thing given that the police Department budget as you are saying, six years in the making, had been shrunk because of the recession and because of the cuts that the city had to make. Do you think 6.6, raise over five years is enough to keep San Diego police officers from leaving Brian? We have the first three years, which will be increased money in the flex benefits and uniform allowance along with some other items in there. The pensionable stuff comes in in the last two years. To be able to open up to take a look at it. And see where we are at. We don't believe that this is an end-all be-all type of contract. This is a step in the right direction. We can recognize the City of San Diego is turning the page on its financial issues that he has experienced over the last several years. This is a good first step for us and when we did this if they recruiting members, per they go down, the city is going to want to come back and meet with us. The city is under no obligation to confer with us over this. They recognize that we do have a recruiting and retention issue facing our police department and they say we want to address this. Public safety is a very high priority. They have no compunction -- no obligation to do this because you are already under a contract. That is correct until 2018. They renegotiated the last two years of the contract and extended it? Yes, extended it to years. I am very grateful to the mayor because as you said he was under no obligation. We had a signed five-year agreement and he saw what was going on and when he was sworn into office and then one day later he swore me in as Chief of lease and that was his priority and he made that very clear that public safety was going to be a priority and that we needed to make sure that we kept our trained officers here and so it really was a collaborative effort with the mayor under his leadership and the City Council, the city attorney, Brian and his team at the police officers Association to come together in this comprehensive agreement to make sure -- it all boils down to make sure that our trained officers stay right here. How hard was this deal to hammer out? Extremely difficult. A lot of moving pieces to it. We had to analyze a lot of -- when you're talking about bonuses and increasing certain type of benefits there are tax ramifications do that. The city attorney's office did a great job in analyzing that. We had our own attorneys analyze it. Actuary people that have to be involved because now we have these are tentative agreement I have to go to the membership now who is currently in the process of ratifying it this week. After that has go back to the city, and the actuary has to analyze it and get back to the city before they can even vote on it. You mentioned Ryan that this -- there is a turnaround going on now. From the cutbacks of the past few years and now things have to catch up. I remember talking about the city making all these cuts and there was a mindset come at the city was giving too much away. Having too much away to city employees including police and fire department. To think there is been a turnaround in that mindset a little bit from what you know now from sitting at the negotiating table? Absolutely. All the employee groups came to the bargaining table recently. It saves a lot of money to the pension system. This contract we currently signed, no increase to the liabilities for the city and the pension system. That's one of the things that we really focused on because outside bargaining a contract for my officers I also have to recognize that we want a strong pension system. We don't want to deal with some of the issues was on Detroit or Chicago, Rhode Island and New Jersey. We want a strong pension system and if you look at the funding be funding is up to 74% doing a great job through its investments and hopefully the pension system will be over 80% in the next couple of years. You say it's not adding to the pension debts because after these -- after the five-year pensionable pay freeze expires when your salary increases kick and they are already part and parcel of what prop be expected for races to kick in at 3.3%? Not so much but the pension system. The wage inflation rate. And assumes there will be a 3.3% pay increase across the board. As long as you step 3.3% or below there are no increase liabilities to the pension system. If the police officers approve, they are getting the contract now and taking a look at the deal now and taking a look at it? We started our membership meetings this morning. Him we are meeting with our members were in the process of taking a look at the information we are providing. Either vote yes or no, yes means a contract will pass and no means they turned it down. By Friday, Mid-Day Friday we should have an answer whether the contract was ratified. If it was I will let the city know we have certified the election and it was ratified and they have to not take it to ST services to get the actuarial analysis done before goes to counsel. That is a part of rap be rich requires an analysis of any type of contact. Overall, I have experienced very positive comments. There is some consternation because we are targeting people with a years versus less than eight years but there is something in this contract for everybody. Overall, I think it's been well received. Steve Zimmerman, from what my standpoint in reading about this, this contract has a lot of City Council support. Do you expect it ultimately if the union members ratify it it will go through the City Council? The City Council has been very supportive and that was one of the reasons why him him -- the independent survey that one out of total compensation survey of these other police departments that show that we were at the bottom and there is a lot of support and I'm very grateful to the Mayor and the City Council. Just to add to what the Chief was saying, as part of this contract and three years the city will go out and do another salary survey to see exactly where we are. At that time, we can reassess how much progress we made or maybe we haven't made any progress. If this deal overcomes these last hurdles want is a go into effect? July 1 of 2015. Thank you both. You explained it will. San Diego police chiefs said Shelley Zimmerman and Brian Marvel President of the San Diego police officers Association. Thanks to both of you.
San Diego’s police officers will vote Friday on a new contract with the city that would boost their compensation.
The tentative agreement increases benefits, such as uniform and equipment allowance, over the next three years and raises pay by 6.6 percent over the last two. Most of the perks are specifically geared toward experienced officers to keep them from seeking better pay elsewhere.
San Diego Police Officers Association president Brian Marvel said many of the union’s members favor the proposal but some have concerns.
"There’s some consternation because we’re targeting people with 8 years versus less than 8 years but there is something in this contract for everybody,” he said Monday on KPBS Midday Edition. "Overall, I think it’s being well received."
The proposal also includes some incentives for new police recruits.
The union’s roughly 1,800 members are expected to vote on the contract by the end of this week.
If the police association does ratify the contract, the San Diego City Employees’ Retirement Fund will conduct an analysis of how it would impact the pension system and present it to the City Council. The council must also approve the contract.