Crime & Justice

LA police union rejects contract with city

File photo: Los Angeles Police Chief Charlie Beck, left, joins Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti, center, during a news conference at Los Angeles International Airport on Friday Nov. 1, 2013. The union representing LAPD officers on Saturday said its members have rejected a proposed contract with the city. Garcetti said he was disappointed but remained committed to reaching a
File photo: Los Angeles Police Chief Charlie Beck, left, joins Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti, center, during a news conference at Los Angeles International Airport on Friday Nov. 1, 2013. The union representing LAPD officers on Saturday said its members have rejected a proposed contract with the city. Garcetti said he was disappointed but remained committed to reaching a "fair and fiscally responsible agreement."
Nick Ut/AP

Citing deep-seated frustration and anger among its members, the union representing Los Angeles police officers said Saturday it has rejected a proposed contract with the city.

Nearly 6,000 rank and file officers cast ballots over four days of voting, according to the Los Angeles Police Protective League, which represents more than 9,900 members.

“LAPD officers have spoken clearly. Their perspectives are consistent with those that we communicated at the bargaining table,” Tyler Izen, LAPPL president, said in a statement.

Izen told KPCC that officers were frustrated over low pay, working conditions and an unfair disciplinary system and noted the contract lacked a cost of living adjustment.

"The issues for my membership are kind of deep-rooted," Izen said.

The Los Angeles Times reports that under the one-year agreement, there would have been a substantial increase in the amount of money available for overtime but that most officers would not have received raises:

Budget officials have been pushing for the city’s elected officials to hold off on raises for city employees, part of a larger strategy for eliminating a structural deficit by 2018. By avoiding raises, officials also hope to limit the growth of their public safety retirement costs.

The city’s payout for police and fire retirement benefits has more than tripled since 2005, growing from $175 million to $626 million. That figure is expected to reach $710 million in two years, according to a presentation given to the City Council in April.

“For every dollar we pay in salary, we have to find 50 cents more for retirement costs” for police officers and firefighters, said City Administrative Officer Miguel Santana, the top budget official at City Hall.

In a statement shared with KPCC, Mayor Eric Garcetti expressed disappointment at the union vote and said the contract was intended to help ease the sacrifice asked of police officers in recent years to help the city weather the financial crisis.

"This sacrifice was always intended to be temporary, and that's why the proposed contract restored cash overtime, ended forced time-off and addressed the compensation disparity for our newest officers," Garcetti said.

Izen told KPCC that he had expected the union membership to approve the contract, though he was never certain of it. While he stressed that no one issue was a deal breaker, he did say the lack of a cost of living adjustment was "kind of the straw that broke the camel's back in my members' minds."

"The city absolutely refused to provide any cost of living adjustment. I mean, that was it. Our members have sacrificed for five years now." Izen said, "They just think that when times were tough, they sacrificed, and now times are getting better and we believe, rightfully so, that we're entitled to see some change in that."

Garcetti said he was committed to reaching a "fair and fiscally responsible agreement."

Izen said the LAPPL remains willing to work with the city on a contract "that will be fair to LAPD officers and ensure the needs of the public will continue to be served."

Correction: An earlier version of this story incorrectly stated the breakdown of the union vote — the 6,000 figure is the total number of ballots cast. Union president Tyler Izen would not give KPCC the exact vote count, but he said a majority voted against the tentative agreement. KPCC regrets the error.

This story has been updated.