Daly City police still without deal

The city and its unionized police officers are as far from reaching an agreement as they were when negotiations began last summer.

While firefighters, police dispatchers and all other unionized city workers have ratified their agreements with the city recently, the Daly City Police Officers Association, which represents 113 police managers and officers, remains without a contract since last May.

“We’re not meeting with them anymore until they can come up with a decent proposal,” union President Jeff Rodriguez said.

In January, the union reached an impasse with the city after the two sides could not agree on changes to a medical benefits plan. Police officers currently receive $680 toward their health care costs and, according to negotiator John Noble, are the lowest-paid in San Mateo County.

“It’s their choice if they don’t want to meet, but the council said that we should meet with the mediator once again to try to reach an agreement,” City Manager Patricia Martel said.

City Attorney Rose Zimmerman said that if negotiations are halted, the City Council has the power to impose a contract on the union.

Supported by representatives from other unions, police officers made a presentation at a recent council meeting, which compared police officers’ salaries and benefits with those of city managers throughout the county. Noble alleged that while Daly City’s police officers are the lowest-paid, the city manager and finance director are one of the highest-paid in the county.

As public safety employees, police union members cannot strike, but they said they would continue speaking up about the issue at future City Council meetings. The union is also preparing to launch a public awareness campaign.

“We’re going to focus our energy on getting a message to the public and the business owners about unfair wages from the city and the benefits that the management receives,” Rodriguez said. “I don’t think they have any clue that there is a major problem with their police department.”

Representatives of other unions who came out to support the police said they began making progress on the agreements right after the police union went to impasse.

“None of us are happy with the tactics that the city uses,” said Rudy Gonzalez, president of Teamsters 856 that represents police dispatchers. “It’s not just a handful of cops that’s upset, it’s a citywide sentiment.”

svasilyuk@examiner.com

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