Council banking on police union

Glendale News Press

CITY HALL — With the City Council scheduled to go with a General Fund budget that counts on $3 million in employee concessions that have yet to materialize, all eyes have turned to the police union and whether it will budge on giving up all or some of a scheduled pay raise.

The Glendale Police Officers Assn. last year declined to reopen its four-year contract and forgo a scheduled 6% pay increase despite City Council pressure to follow the lead of other city employee unions. Police officers are set to receive another 5% pay increase starting July 1.

And so as city executives press the three other employee unions, all of which did not receive pay increases last year, to pick up a larger share of retirement and health-care costs, some representatives are holding out on making any commitments until they see what police do.

Negotiations with police started in March.

"Everyone is watching to see what's happening with police, frankly," City Manager Jim Starbird said.

The proposed concessions are a key component of the city's plan to fill a projected $8.1-million budget shortfall without further cuts to city services. It is the third year City Hall has been forced to fill a significant budget gap amid increased costs and dwindling revenues.

Starbird has said that employee negotiations would likely continue past the June approval of the budget.

If the $3 million in savings doesn't come through, the City Council would be forced to reopen the budget and consider further cuts, which could potentially translate into layoffs or unpaid work furloughs for city employees.

Union representatives have said they are willing to talk about concessions, but only if they are absorbed across the board.

Jay Kreitz, president of the Glendale Management Assn., which is also set to negotiate a new contract effective July 1, said the union is open to helping the budget situation, but only if concessions are spread among all city employees.

His group was the only employee group to give up scheduled pay increases last year, he said. The Glendale Firefighters Assn. last year agreed to postpone two years' worth of scheduled pay increases, but is still set to receive a pay bump in July 2011.

"We are ready to do what the other associations are doing," Kreitz said. "We think it should be equal among employee associations. We have been very clear with the city that our members are ready to be part of a citywide employee solution."

On Tuesday, Glendale Police Sgt. Louis Haloulakos, president of the Glendale Police Officers Assn., said negotiations so far had been positive.

"We have some good dialogue going on right now, and we are continuing to talk," he said.

Regardless of police concessions, city officials will likely face a skeptical audience with the rank and file of the city's largest employee bargaining group, the Glendale City Employees' Assn., which must negotiate a new contract effective July 1.

Last year, the organization didn't approve its one-year contract until August, nearly a month after the group first voted down the original contract, which lacked a pay increase.

The union's president, Craig Hinckley, could not be reached for comment.

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