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Panel Backs 9% Pay Hike for LAPD

Committee of city officials endorses a proposed three-year contract that calls for a smaller salary increase than current agreement.

June 19, 2003|Patrick McGreevy and Andrew Blankstein | Times Staff Writers

Los Angeles police officers would receive pay raises of 9% over the next three years, as well as additions to vacation and health benefits, under a proposed contract endorsed in concept Wednesday by a panel of elected city officials.

The pact is still subject to approval by police union members and the full City Council, which is expected to consider it within two weeks.

The city's Executive Employee Relations Committee, normally made up of four council members and Mayor James K. Hahn, recommended that officers receive a 2% raise July 1, followed by a 3% raise in July 2004 and a 4% raise in July 2005, according to sources familiar with the negotiations.

The package would be a step down from the contract that expires June 30, in which officers received a 13% raise over three years.

Officials said the proposed agreement reflects the city's dire financial situation, which resulted in the City Council recently postponing a plan to expand the Los Angeles Police Department by 320 officers next year.

Hahn missed Wednesday's meeting of the employee relations committee so he could fly to Sacramento to argue the case against further cuts in state funding to the city.

Deputy Mayor Matt Middlebrook refused comment on the proposed pact.

Anticipating the possibility of further fallout from the state budget crisis, the proposed police contract includes a reopener clause that would allow the city or union to seek new terms depending on significant improvement or deterioration of the city's finances.

"It looks like we have an agreement in concept," said Councilman Nick Pacheco, a member of the employment relations committee.

Pacheco, who also chairs the council's Budget and Finance Committee, declined to discuss the details of the proposal, citing the fact that it was handled in closed session, but added, "The police officers understand the budget issues that we have and have been gracious, and if they ratify what is proposed, they will end up making less than our civilian employees."

Although city sources said union leaders indicated support for the proposal, Police Protective League President Bob Baker said Wednesday that it was premature to comment because talks were ongoing.

In addition to the pay raises, the city panel recommended that police officers eventually receive one additional day of vacation after two years of service, and two extra days after 10 years.

Also, sources said the officers would get at least two years worth of subsidies to offset rising health-care costs, including $55 per month in the first year and $50 in the second.

City officials estimate the cost of the proposed police contract at $35.9 million for the fiscal year beginning July 1, which is about half of the $70 million that the City Council delayed spending next year on initiatives, including the 320-officer expansion of the police force.

Councilwoman Cindy Miscikowski, another employee relations committee member, said she does not believe the panel's recommendation would break the budget approved by the council this month.

The contract could cost $161 million over three years.

Councilman Dennis Zine, a former police sergeant and union director who now serves on the employee relations panel, urged the council and rank-and-file officers to ratify the proposed contract. "With concern about terrorism and public safety, to have a labor dispute at this time in history would be counterproductive," Zine said.

"If they agree to this proposal, the city benefits, the residents benefit and the police officers benefit," he said.

The Police Protective League is holding a delegates' meeting this weekend in Palm Springs, where the city's contract proposal is expected to get a lot of discussion.

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