After a five-year-long impasse, a state arbitrator has approved a contract that will give Long Beach police a long-awaited raise.
On May 29, the arbitrator awarded the 61-member Patrolmen’s Benevolent Association, which has 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.
PBA President Ken Apple lauded the decision, saying that Long Beach police officers, whose salaries range between $40,000 and $98,000 per year, not including overtime, are the lowest-paid in the county.
“We are the third-busiest and third-largest city/village Police Department in the county, and yet the lowest-paid until this award,” Apple said, adding that salaries now fall somewhere in the middle. “The contract for the PBA is a great sigh of relief for the membership; they haven’t had a raise in five years. Members feel it’s fair, and they’re relieved it’s over. The productivity throughout the years has increased even though we’ve been working without a contract, which is an absolute tribute to a our membership.”
In September, the City Council voted to give the arbitrator, Arthur Reigel, the authority to decide on the 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 — and allow for a favorable settlement in light of the city’s fiscal crisis. “What we’d rather not do is end in arbitration and then restart a new round,” Schnirman said in September.
The resolution comes less than a month after the city approved an $83.4 million budget for fiscal 2013-14, which includes a 1.5 percent tax increase and $1.8 million in contingency funds to cover costs associated with the contract and police retirements. Ken Gray, an attorney with Bee Ready Fishbein Hatter & Donovan LLP, the firm that represented the city, declined to give a total dollar amount for the new contract, saying that the city comptroller is still calculating it.