Simi Police OK Tentative Pact That Offers Wage Parity

Times Staff Writer

The Simi Valley Police Officers Assn. on Thursday ratified a tentative contract agreement with the city that reportedly grants the union's two major demands--wage parity with certain local police forces and consideration of a four-day workweek.

Sources familiar with the agreement said the new contract, if adopted by the City Council, would grant the officers a wage scale tied to the average police salary in higher-paying departments in comparable cities in Los Angeles and Orange counties.

Before Wednesday's settlement, the city had offered only a percentage of that average, according to the sources, who called the concession the union's biggest gain.

But the pact includes at least one union concession that disappointed many members and delayed ratification, said Sgt. Gary Collins, the union's spokesman.

Collins declined to disclose that concession, as well as other details of the agreement, but another source said full parity with other departments would not be achieved until the last year of the four-year contract.

The city also agreed only to consider--not necessarily to grant--the officers' controversial demand for a workweek of four 10-hour days, sources said.

Collins acknowledged that the union initially failed to collect enough votes to ratify the pact.

About 52 of the union's 83 members attended an emergency meeting called Wednesday night to vote on the pact, Collins said. But by 11:30 p.m. it was clear the accord would not receive the 42 votes necessary for ratification, he said.

On Thursday, union officers continued polling members, both by phone and as they arrived for work, until a majority was reached, Collins said. He declined to disclose the final tally, but suggested that emotions were still running high after an acrimonious, three-week impasse in negotiations.

Union members have been working without a contract since July 1, when their previous two-year contract with the city expired. The union represents about 85 of the department's 100 officers.

Collins said he could not remember a labor dispute "this brutal" between the city and police. Contract negotiations have stalled before, he said, "but they weren't this vicious or with threats."

In the midst of the impasse, Mayor Greg Stratton last week threatened to ask the council to replace the city's Police Department with officers from the Ventura County Sheriff's Department.

Stratton declined Thursday to discuss the negotiations but said he was glad a settlement had been reached.

"We think the package is good and well within the city's guidelines," the mayor said.

He said the council, at its regular meeting Monday, will review details of the agreement during a closed session and then vote on its ratification.

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