San Diego Mayor: Tentative Deal Reached With Police, Firefighters Unions
San Diego Mayor Todd Gloria on Friday announced he had reached tentative agreements with labor unions representing the city's police officers and firefighters.
On July 1, all San Diego Police Officers Association (SDPOA) members will receive a 3.2% raise. The San Diego City Firefighters Local 145 members will receive a 2.5% raise, with additional pay bumps for specialty jobs and incentives to pursue higher education.
The tentative agreements with the unions still need City Council approval, with a vote scheduled for Tuesday. Gloria said the agreements "will help us attract and retain top-flight personnel, enhance public safety and support working families."
"Our police officers and firefighters, like all our city employees, work incredibly hard every day to serve and protect San Diegans, and they should be compensated fairly and in a way that demonstrates our appreciation for what they do," Gloria added.
On June 8, the council approved agreements with three other labor unions: American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) Local 127; the Deputy City Attorneys Association (DCAA); and the San Diego Municipal Employees Association (MEA).
Those unions will receive a 4% raise on July 1.
Agreements with the firefighters union, AFSCME Local 127, MEA and DCAA also provide wage increases over the next two years, while the police union's agreement is for one year. According to Gloria's office, increased compensation will help address an existing 12.9% vacancy rate across city departments and service delays, including those on the city's "Get It Done" mobile app.
A 2020 audit showed one major factor behind employee turnover was significant pay gaps, compared with other California jurisdictions. As one example, city of San Diego white-collar workers with five years of experience made 26% less than their counterparts in other cities, the audit found.
City employee unions have also recently notched legal victories over retirement benefits. Proposition B, passed by voters in 2012, mandated a five-year pay freeze and eliminated pensions for all new employees except police officers. City employees do not pay into Social Security, and their retirement benefits were limited to a 401(k)-style plan.
But the California Supreme Court ruled in 2018 that Proposition B's placement on the ballot had violated state labor laws. A lower court later invalidated the measure, and on June 8 the City Council approved Gloria's proposal to allow new employees hired after July 10, 2021 to join the city's retirement system.
Police Det. Jack Schaeffer, SDPOA president, said the agreement would build on past efforts to reduce the trend of officers leaving the San Diego Police Department for better pay and benefits in neighboring cities.
"We just need to keep competitive, like any other job," Schaeffer said. "I never want to get to the point again where our officers can get a $1,000 a month raise by changing the color of their uniform."
Capt. Jesse Conner, Local 145 president, also praised the deal, saying it was the first meaningful boost firefighters have seen in 15 years.
"The leadership in this city has changed and there's more of a value on taking care of the workforce, because ultimately it's the workforce that takes care and provides citizens services," Conner said.