‘It’s Amazing What You Can Do Without Attorneys’

CLAREMONT, CA &#8211 After months of rancor, lawsuits and even some threats, the City Council and the Claremont Police Officers Association have reached a tentative agreement on a 3-year labor contract.

The council is due to vote on the contract at its April 10 meeting, city officials said. The CPOA will present the agreement to its members on Monday.

The negotiations have gone on for months as both sides argued over increased employee pension payments, pay increases and even a dispute over where the union could pass out fliers at the annual Village Venture event.

Mayor Larry Schroeder announced the tentative agreement out of closed session at the regular council meeting this week. He said the vote in closed session was not unanimous but the actual vote was not released.

In the tentative agreement, the CPOA agreed to pay the remaining percentage of its California Public Employees Retirement System contribution starting July 8, 2013 and withdraw the two legal actions it filed against the city.

Union members currently pay 6 percent of the employee PERS contribution and before the end of the contract term will pay the full 8 or 9 percent depending on the employment classification.

City council members, during the length of the contract, agreed to pay union members cost of living adjustments totaling 5 percent.

CPOA president Claremont police Cpl. Rick Varney said the deal was reached after negotiating team members met with city representatives.

He said he did not anticipate the deal collapsing when it is presented to the union membership.

“It’s a formality to have our vote,” Varney said. “The city and our negotiating team worked well together. It’s amazing what you can do without attorneys.”

Schroeder said the agreement allows the council to achieve several long-term goals.

“These are aligning the police union members to be on the same negotiation schedule as other units,” he said, “and all employees will be paying the full amount of their share of PERS contribution by the end of their contracts in June 2014.”

Councilmen Corey Calaycay and Opanyi Nasiali, when reached Friday, declined to discuss the matter because the vote was reached in closed session.

However, in October, both men broke from the rest of the council in voting against having police union members increase their retirement contribution because it included a 1.5 percent cost-of-living salary increase.

Calaycay even received a letter from the Committee Of Police and Fire Associations Inspiring Responsible Elections political action committee on Oct. 19 saying it will “actively oppose” him in future elections apparently as a result of his stance in the stymied city negotiations with the police union.

The CPOA, because of the 3-2 vote in late October where the council unilaterally increased their retirement contribution to 6 percent, filed an unfair labor practice charge with the state Public Employment Relations Board.

“The PERB lawsuit was on the basis of an unfair contract, meaning the city’s last and best offer was not implemented,” Varney said. “It was different than what we were offered. It created the whole problem.”

Varney said the CPOA was given a favorable ruling and mediation was scheduled, but “I saw we were working toward a negotiation and postponed it a month.”

A second action was a writ of mandate in Pomona Superior Court requesting salary information for the city manager, assistant city manager, City Council members, retired members of the council and executives of city departments.

The city has now negotiated three-year contracts with seven of its eight bargaining units over the past 18 months, officials said.

Varney said the CPOA would now try to reach out to the community more through participating in charity events and fundraisers like sponsoring Little League.

“We’ll try to do our thing and get back into the good graces of the community,” Varney said.

From The Daily Bulletin.