The Pleasanton Police Officers Association announced late Wednesday afternoon that it was declaring an impasse amid its tense contract negotiations with the city, which the union president said has consistently rejected the association's demands for higher compensation.
The union claims the Pleasanton Police Department is facing major recruitment and retention problems within its officer ranks due to below-market pay and the draining impacts of significant staffing shortages such as emergency scheduling, reduction in public services and excessive mandatory overtime.
"One of the reasons we're at an impasse is a monetary reason," PPOA President Brian Jewell told the Weekly. "Our proposals that we're getting from the city do not get us to even the average of the market ... We're still below the market as far as compensation goes."
Over the past two years, the PPD has experienced an "exodus of personnel to other law enforcement agencies" that the union attributes to officers leaving the department for better pay at other organizations. Jewell said that this has led to units such as the special enforcement, crime prevention and motorcycle being temporarily shut down, which primarily affects the residents.
"These staffing shortages are, in turn, causing our resources to be limited, because we don't have the amount of officers that we should have, or the amount of officers that we had before," Jewell said.
So as the association's labor contract is reaching its expiration date next Wednesday (May 31), Jewell said that it's important for the city to reach an agreement with the association where they include higher compensation so that the department can recruit and retain its qualified officers.
City officials declined to comment Wednesday evening, saying they would offer more information on the status of negotiations on Thursday.
"While the association sought to get ahead of this problem when the staffing crisis first emerged, the city did not commence negotiations until March of this year," Jewell said in a press release on Wednesday. "We are now rapidly approaching the expiration of the current memorandum of understanding and the city has rejected every proposal to provide competitive compensation."
He added that "the need to improve staffing cannot come at the expense of maintaining the highest standards for prospective applicants. This community demands and deserves the highest level of service, but we cannot reasonably expect to successfully recruit and retain highly qualified personnel while our compensation is among the lowest in our regional market."
The association argues its labor negotiation proposals to the city, which look to bring Pleasanton's police compensation up to par with the market standards, have been met with resistance. The union did not reveal specifics of their compensation proposals.
It also states that the city has rejected suggestions for career incentive programs, which help promote the retention of experienced officers, and for proposals to restore minimum standards for qualified candidates.
"Despite the department's glaring needs, the city's proposals would ensure that its police officer compensation would remain below both the market average and median. This significant discrepancy puts Pleasanton at a disadvantage in recruiting and retaining the best law enforcement professionals, and all but ensuring further staffing shortages," the union press release stated, adding that the city now needs to hire at least 25 new officers within the next two years.
While Jewell said that the next steps would be to hold an impasse meeting with the city, he does not know how long the process would last because every impasse is different. He added that his primary goal is to ultimately come to a resolution with the city so that Pleasanton doesn't lose more police officers.
"I don't want to see us lose more officers. I don't want to see our resources go down," he said. "I want us to be able to provide the best and highest level of service to our community."