It has come to that time of year where city employees have to explain their worth to the City leaders in hope of receiving fair and adequate compensation for the work they provide.
That’s right, its negotiations time. The San Gabriel Police Officers’ Association (SGPOA) is once again in the midst of having to negotiate with City negotiators for a cost of living increase that has eluded us for the past seven years. The rank and file members of the police department have not had a pay raise or cost of living increase in nearly eight years. As a matter of fact, every sworn member of the police department, both rank and file and management were forced to take a 6% reduction in pay. For most of the past seven years, the SGPOA understood the financial difficulties the City of San Gabriel was faced with, and had forgone asking for salary increases so that the City could weather the economic downturn. Each year we were told that the city does not have enough money for salary or benefit increases.
As a result, the salaries of 9 out of the 10 other police agencies that the City uses for comparison studies of salaries and benefits have continued to increase, causing the salaries of the rank and file officers of San Gabriel to fall to second to last of those survey cities. The SGPOA is not greedy enough that we neither expect nor want to be at the top of the salary range for the survey cities. But at the same time, we feel that it is not too much to ask that we at least be in the middle of the salary range; considering the excellent service the police officers of San Gabriel provide to the community.
However, it has come to our attention that over that past several years the City has had enough money to skirt the negotiations process, and increase the salaries of several city employees. This was done by “Reclassifying” their job titles, and thusly, increasing the salary for the new job title. As government employees, managers cannot simply give an employee a salary increase whenever they want. Salary and benefit changes must be done through contract negotiations near the end of a termed contract. One way some government entities have been able to avoid the negotiations process is by reclassifying an employee’s job title. With the new reclassified job title, the government entity is then free to increase that employee’s salary without any of the checks and balances the rest of the employee bargaining units must adhere to. The total cost of the most recent reclassifications, which were approved by the City Council in January is $58,000.
The SGPOA is not asking to have their job titles reclassified or to circumvent the negotiations process. Instead, we welcome the chance to sit down at the negotiations table and meet face to face with the City’s representatives and find out how much the City leaders value the hard work and dedication of the men and women of the San Gabriel Police Department, who put their lives on the line each and everyday serving the residents and businesses of San Gabriel.