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‘Blue Flu’ Eases; Fervor Still High : Labor: Huntington Beach police union says all officers will show up for holiday duty despite continuing dissatisfaction over contract talks. Negotiations will resume Thursday.

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TIMES STAFF WRITER

The Police Department’s “blue flu” has gone into remission, with none of the officers scheduled to work Monday calling in sick, and all 229 of those on duty today expected to show.

Despite dissatisfaction over contract negotiations that culminated in a picket line Monday, police officers said they would not implement any job action that might jeopardize public safety on the Fourth of July.

“This is not a question of our responsibilities to the public,” said Richard Wright, president of the Huntington Beach Police Officers Assn. “This is about whether one of the finest police departments will stay one of the finest police departments. We are on the brink of losing quality people.”

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In addition to the city’s police force, the California Highway Patrol and the Orange County Sheriff’s Department are on standby to help if crowds become unruly.

“All of our plans and our preparations have been completed and we have been given the assurance from the police union that there will be enough police officers to patrol the area,” Capt. Patrick Gildea said.

On Thursday and Friday, dozens of police officers called in sick, prompting city officials to ask a judge for a restraining order.

Since that order was issued Friday, requiring officers claiming illness to produce a doctor’s note, only about a dozen officers called in sick Saturday and one did on Sunday, authorities said.

The police union, which represents more than 200 sworn officers, recently asked for and was denied a 10.75% raise. Officers have had no salary increase in three years. City officials said they want to give them a raise, but money lost in the county’s bankruptcy and other budget constraints have stymied them.

On Monday evening, officers carrying placards marched on both sides of Pacific Coast Highway outside the Waterfront Hilton, where City Council members were attending a Fourth of July celebration.

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“We want the folks who come to this party to let their City Council members know that there’s a problem out front,” Wright said. “The negotiation process is at a point where citizens are going to have to dictate how they want the situation handled.”

Today, the union planned to hire a plane to tow a banner reading “HB Council Unfair to HB Police” above the miles of coastline that are perennially packed on the Fourth of July, Police Sgt. Lloyd Edwards said.

Negotiations were scheduled to resume Thursday.

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