REDONDO BEACH, CA — As guests arrived at a Redondo Beach hotel Tuesday morning, April 16, for the annual State of the City breakfast, they caught a sight of something that rarely happens in this city: A group of police officers were picketing.
The department’s 95 officers, operating without a contract for the past 10 months, have asked for a 3% cost-of-living raise and a bump in the employer contribution to their health insurance, said Officer Robert Carlborg, president of the Redondo Beach Police Officers Association. But city officials have not yielded in closed-session negotiations, Carlborg added, offering up an additional permanent holiday and three temporary holidays each year.
So on Tuesday, about 30 officers stood outside the Crowne Plaza Hotel, where the Chamber of Commerce hosted the breakfast, holding signs that read, “State of the city is unfair!”
Carlborg said the reaction from people going inside was supportive.
“They understand,” he said, “that part of having a successful business in Redondo Beach involves public safety.”
The City Council was expected to meet in closed session later Tuesday evening to discuss the matter.
But if the labor negotiations don’t progress soon, the union may have no choice but to pursue arbitration, Carlborg said.
Mayor Bill Brand, in his speech to members of the city’s business community, addressed the scene outside.
“Police are out there picketing,” Brand told the crowd toward the beginning of his presentation, as he began to talk about the city’s budget. “We were unable to give them a raise this year. I don’t really blame them. If we had the money we would be giving it to them — no doubt about it.”
Brand said the city had a “structural budget deficit” this year and was able to balance the budget by dipping into its CalPERS reserves, meant to pay retirement benefits. The city maintained its cash reserves at 8.33%, Brand said, or about $7.6 million of a $91.3 million general fund budget.
In February, the City Council adjusted its mid-year budget to account for $1.13 million in new revenue, money Carlborg pointed out could be spent on police officers.
If the city does not increase officer’s wages in Redondo Beach, which Carlborg and the union say are among the lowest in the South Bay, the department could lose officers — and likely in a hurry
“Here’s a guy with a lot of work experience and you’re going to replace him with someone who has none?” Carlborg asked rhetorically. “We don’t really have the lawsuits here in Redondo because we have an experienced, tenured PD. And we don’t want that to change.”
From The Daily Breeze