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Pasadena Police Get 10% Raise, Increase in Benefits : Labor: The new contract boosts the officers' compensation from 13th to fifth among 14 comparable cities.

July 19, 1990|VICKI TORRES | TIMES STAFF WRITER

Pasadena police officers are working under a new contract with pay and benefit increases that boost their compensation to fifth-highest among 14 comparable cities.

Previously, the city ranked 13th among cities surveyed by the Pasadena Police Officers Assn. and the city, association President Dennis Diaz said.

Diaz said the city's Board of Directors, which unanimously approved the contract, played a crucial role in breaking a three-month impasse in negotiations.

The contract provides a 10% pay increase and 4.7% increase in health benefits.

The 16-month agreement runs retroactively from July 2 through October, 1991. Police officers had overwhelmingly approved it.

"It's a big improvement, a generous pay and benefit package," Diaz said. "I think the board had looked at it, saw that we were low and decided to get us back up to being competitive, and that's what they did."

The 170 police officers were not the only city employees to benefit. About 255 non-union employees in clerical, technical and administrative posts received a 5% pay increase under a salary resolution amendment also unanimously approved by the board.

For non-union employees, a provision was added for the continuation of health and dental coverage during unpaid maternity leave. Clerical employees who have worked for the city five years or less will also receive two more days of sick time each year.

Meanwhile, the board also approved a new contract with the city's 300 clerical workers, represented by the Pasadena Assn. of Clerical and Technical Employees.

The 30-month contract for the city's unionized clerical workers contains wage increases ranging from 5% to 15.7% depending on job classification, plus additional health insurance benefits, association President Linda Cox said.

The contract expired July 1, and a settlement was reached the next day. Cox attributed the speedy resolution to the impasse with the police union and a desire by city negotiators to avoid creating the impression that, under newly hired City Manager Philip Hawkey, the city would have a fractious relationship with its unions.

"This is the first time in the history of our union that we've settled on time," Cox said.

The new benefits awarded to police will cost the city almost $1.3 million annually, while benefits given to non-union employees will come to $1.2 million annually.

The negotiations over the police contract had been the rockiest in recent years, Diaz said. Negotiations began in January but reached an impasse in April, when the contract expired. A state negotiator was called in but was unable to make progress.

Finally, the officers picketed outside City Hall for more than four hours during a June 14 board meeting and sent letters pleading their cause to more than 125 neighborhood groups.

The action prompted the directors to provide new directions to city negotiators during a closed session that day. Improvements in the city's offer were made shortly thereafter, Diaz said.

The Board of Directors has always been committed to keeping its police officers at the top of the pay scale for law enforcement agencies and was willing to approve substantial increases, Director Rick Cole said. It was negotiations over more than 40 other issues that took time, he said.

Officers at the top of Pasadena's pay scale will receive $4,054 monthly in pay and health benefits, Diaz said. A $75-a-month bonus for bilingual officers was also approved.

The age of eligibility for retirement was lowered from 55 to 50. Officers who have been with the city for five years or less received two extra sick days, Diaz said.

Changes were also made in the city's anti-drug and alcohol abuse policy. The police association succeeded in adding criteria to determine when an employee should be tested for drug abuse and in prohibiting supervisors from arbitrarily searching desks and lockers for drugs.

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