Contract talks stalled, police say

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CITY HALL — The Glendale Police Officers Assn. took the City Council to task Friday for refusing to accept proposed salary and benefit concessions that union officials say would save the city about $4 million in the next several years.

Union President Sgt. Louie Haloulakos released a statement Friday afternoon announcing that talks with the city on re-opening the current contract had stalled after months of closed-session meetings.

City officials, he said, have not accepted a union proposal that includes giving back scheduled raises and increasing employee pension contributions.

The proposed concessions would help make up a significant portion of $3 million in employee concessions factored into the city budget adopted last month, he said.

"We can only guess that the city's reasons for rejecting our proposal involve issues other than the immediate and out-year budget concerns," he said in the statement. "Nevertheless, our position has not changed; if the city has a budget gap, we remain willing to help.

But city officials say that the union's proposal — which would have extended the current contract by several years — would save only about $1.1 million in the next fiscal year.

Without any concessions, scheduled 5% pay raises that took effect this week total about $2.3 million for the fiscal year.

"There is concern about what their proposal is because frankly the council is concerned it doesn't go far enough," City Manager Jim Starbird said. "They've come a long away. However, it still has our costs going up."

The public tiff comes days after city officials announced concessions from the Glendale Firefighter's Assn. that will translate into about $3 millions in savings in the next three years.

The City Council next week is expected to ratify that contract, which includes no pay raises through 2013, higher employee contributions to pension plans and a two-tier retirement system with a higher retirement age for all new hires.

Starbird said the City Council is pushing the Glendale Police Officers Assn. to agree to a similar system, which city officials have said would make the city's pension obligations more sustainable in the long term.

"Generally, the feeling is there needs to be more done in the feeling of long-term pension reform," he said. "In the absence of that, I'm not sure an agreement can be reached, but we are still hopeful."

Only four City Council members have been involved in the closed session talks, which likely means they are at stalemate on the union's offer. They either could not be reached, or declined to comment, citing the ongoing talks.

Councilman John Drayman recused himself from negotiations amid the fallout of his public condemnation of the police department's pedestrian sting using an Easter bunny costume. He decided not to take part in negotiations after he said he was confronted by some police officers over the criticisms.

"I was in a very awkward position where I had to recuse myself," Drayman said.

Absent of a new agreement, the police association's current contract, which runs through June 2011, would run its course and the 5% pay increases would remain in effect. The union would then have to negotiate a new contract next year.

Police officers are the only city employees to receive pay increases in the past two years. The union last year declined to reopen its contract and forgo a scheduled 6% pay increase despite City Council pressure to follow the lead of other city employee unions.

While Haloulakos noted there are no more meetings scheduled between the two groups, Human Resources Director Matt Doyle said that does not mean more won't take place.

"We don't consider the talks to have been completely ended at this point," he said. "We are definitely open to continuing to talk. But again, there are a couple of very key points we would like to see addressed in any type of the proposal."

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