Los Angeles city officials Tuesday reached a tentative one-year salary agreement with the police officers’ union that dramatically expands cash payments for overtime while avoiding raises for most workers, according to a source familiar with the proposed pact.
Under the terms of the deal, the vast majority of officers represented by the Police Protective League would receive no bump in salary, the source said. Pay increases would be given, however, to nearly 1,000 officers who have joined the department since 2009, the year salaries for incoming officers were cut 20%.
Lower pay for incoming officers, while helping the city recover from a recession, has seriously hampered the LAPD’s ability to recruit and retain young officers. The tentative agreement would raise the salaries of its newer officers to the level of their better-paid counterparts within the LAPD. It would also hike starting salaries by 15%, from $49,924 a year to $57,420, in January, the source said.
Those two moves would add between $7 million and $8 million in costs, according to budget analysts. Garcetti described the proposed deal as “fiscally responsible,” saying it would ensure the LAPD remains competitive in recruitment. Council President Herb Wesson said the proposal would provide “a major boost to recruitment, retention and morale.”
League officials had no comment. The agreement now heads to the union’s more than 9,000 members for a ratification vote. The lack of raises is likely to be a contentious point among rank-and-file officers. However, the agreement calls for the city to reinstate much of the cash the LAPD previously relied on to pay its officers for overtime, before budget cuts eliminated it.
Under the proposed contract, the city would provide up to $70 million in overtime payments over a 12-month period, up from the $30 million placed in this year’s budget. That would represent a major break from the last five years, which saw LAPD officers rack up hundreds of thousands of overtime hours, only to have payment postponed years into the future. Deferred overtime hours must be paid when an officer retires, typically at a much higher salary.
A return to a pay-as-you-go approach for overtime will be welcomed by LAPD brass, who have forced hundreds of officers to take time off each month in an effort to rein in the number of deferred overtime hours. With so many officers unavailable, commanders have struggled to fill patrol shifts.
“This tentative agreement will allow me to put hundreds more police officers on the street to meet the needs of our city,” Police Chief Charlie Beck said. “It also increases our ability to hire and retain the best possible officers.”
It was not immediately clear why the agreement would cover only one year. Last fall, the union that represents most Department of Water and Power workers approved a contract that contains three consecutive years without raises, followed by a 2% pay hike in 2016.
City Administrative Officer Miguel Santana, the top budget official, has repeatedly recommended that lawmakers hold off on raises as part of a larger strategy to eliminate a structural budget deficit by 2018.
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