City, police officers reach impasse on labor talks

Mediator called on to reconcile union demands for salary, benefit increases

SAN BRUNO — With labor negotiations with police over salary and benefits at a standstill, the city announced Wednesday that it is seeking the help of a mediator.

Since May, the city and the police union have been debating two main issues: wage increases and medical benefits. Police representatives are asking for a salary increase of 14 percent, but the city maintains that it cannot afford to go that high.

A full-time police officer in San Bruno working all calendar year earns an average of $94,427 in salary and overtime.

Medical, dental and vision benefits provided by the Teamsters Local 856 Health and Welfare Trust Fund cost the city $825 per month per employee, representing nearly 65 percent of the total cost of the benefits, with the employees paying the rest.

City Manager Connie Jackson said in a statement that the city proposed a plan that included salary increases and an increase in the city’s contribution for medical premiums.

“Most importantly, the City Council recognizes that the city needs to operate within its means and be fiscally responsible in the use of public resources,” Jackson said. “As a result, the city finds it very difficult to address all of the police unit’s demands without negatively impacting city staffing levels and city programs, which affect the city’s services to the community.”

Jackson and union representatives did not return calls seeking further comment Wednesday.

Police Chief Lee Violett declined to comment, saying that all public information on this issue was being handled by Jackson’s office.

Approximately one-third of the General Fund budget is dedicated to the city’s police operations, equipment and salaries and benefits. The department has 49 employees, including dispatchers and clerks and 37 police officers.

The city and police union representatives are set to meet with a mediator on Oct. 25.

“It’s been a long haul up to this point, and it’s unfortunate we had to reach an impasse,” Councilman Jim Ruane said. “It may all come down to the meeting on the 25th.”

Both parties discussed the labor negotiations in a closed City Council session Wednesday.

tramroop@examiner.com

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