Dozens of frustrated Los Angeles police officers packed the L.A. Police Commission meeting Tuesday to share their frustrations about union negotiations, which are on a temporary break since union members voted down a proposed contract last week.
The proposed contract would have increased the amount of money the city would pay for overtime and increase the starting pay for new cops to $57,420. But it did not include a cost of living or salary increase. Negotiations are expected to continue on a new pact.
Officers at Tuesday's meeting expressed concern about the lack of salary increases, cost of living adjustments or a plan to fully fund overtime pay.
“Our officers felt the lack of a raise was a slap in the face,” said Tyler Izen, president of the Los Angeles Police Protective League, at the meeting. “This is not greed. This is about knowing that even though you are one of the best at your calling, you are paid the least.”
The meeting room was so filled with union officers that many had to wait in the hallways and in the lobby of the police department building.
“I would say, that as a whole, these officers would like to see some sort of COLA increase [cost of living adjustment],” said officer Enzo Averaimo from LAPD’s Northeast division, who waited in the lobby.
Police Chief Charlie Beck opened the meeting Tuesday asking union officers to respect each other’s opinions. This was the first time Beck commented on the contract bargaining process. He said negotiations need to continue and a medium must be found.
“The reality is that the city can only do so much, and that is what must be negotiated,” he said. “You have to realize that this is not about the value that I or the city places on you.”
After the meeting, Beck said that he would be willing to work with the union on discipline issues. Some officers at the meeting said discipline was unfairly doled out to officers and bred a feeling of mistrust between rank-and-file officers and LAPD brass.
Izen said he was ready to return to the bargaining table as early as tomorrow but gave no time for when negotiations might start up again. When asked what might change things, Izen said perhaps pay raises for officers.
“By itself, … yeah, probably, … but I’m not positive on that point,” Izen said.
The showing at the commission meeting was a symbolic protest; neither the L.A. Police Commission nor the police chief take part in negotiations. That’s between the union and the city. But the members of the police commission are appointed by the mayor, who is involved in the bargaining process.
The next step is for the union and the city to return to the negotiations table. Neither side had a timetable for when they would resume talks. Mayor Eric Garcetti said he's willing to go back to the table but said the city cannot do a cost of living increase.
Last month, the city approved a budget for the current fiscal year, which started July 1, that closed a $242 million shortfall. And that balanced budget was approved assuming there would be no cost of living increases for any of the unions.
"This is a mathematical problem. We don't have money for raises. But anything else that they want to talk about on the table and other ways we might accelerate some of those time lines, we're all ears and I hope to come to an agreement with them soon."
In 1994, the city of Los Angeles went about two years without a contract with the police union. The dispute was largely over salary increases but led to a march on City Hall and two days of officers calling in sick.