City to vote on $6.5M bond for PBA contract

Proposed measure to cover union’s retroactive pay


The City Council is expected to vote on a $6.5 million bond measure later this month to pay for mandatory retroactive salaries to members of the Long Beach Patrolmen’s Benevolent Association, after a state arbitrator approved a contract in May to give Long Beach police a long-awaited raise.

On May 29, the arbitrator awarded the Patrolmen’s Benevolent Association, which had been without a contract since 2008, a compounded 22.7 percent increase that includes five years of retroactive pay and incremental hikes through fiscal year 2014.

Last year, the City Council voted 3-2 to give an independent arbitrator the authority to decide on a seven-year deal, retroactive to 2008 and running through June 30, 2015. At the time, city officials said that the agreement would bring an end to a costly arbitration process — each round of arbitration cost the city around $100,000, City Manager Jack Schnirman said at the time — and allow for a favorable settlement in light of the city’s fiscal crisis.

According to the city, the proposed bond measure, which the City Council will discuss at its Dec. 17 meeting, is required to fund the mandatory retroactive salary payments pursuant to an arbitration award to the PBA, going back a period of five years that they were without a contract.

For several years, officials have speculated about how a new police contract would impact the cash-strapped city, and it had become a campaign issue by the Republican-backed candidates running for City Council, who criticized the Democratic administration for relying too heavily on borrowing. City Councilman John McLaughlin, the lone Republican on the council who voted against a seven-year agreement, said that the city should have allowed the arbitrator to approve a two-year deal, “which would have meant that we would have had to negotiate further, but that’s what we pay our corporation counsel for,” said McLaughlin, who did not attend Tuesday’s meeting and added that he has to decide on whether he will vote in favor of the bond measure.

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