Long Beach officials, Police Officers Association reveal details of tentative labor agreement

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Photo by Lissette Mendoza | Signal Tribune
A new “Long Beach” sign at the Civic Center in downtown Long Beach.

The City of Long Beach revealed new details Monday of a tentative three-year agreement with the Police Officers Association (POA) that that was announced last month.

The city council will review the agreement on Sept. 17 for discussion and consideration.

The labor agreement includes a phased-in approach for structural wage increases that are in part offset by having employees pay a portion of the city’s pension costs, the city said.

The new cost-sharing provision will help the city mitigate the rising costs of pensions, according to the press release.

As previously reported in the Signal Tribune, the city’s pension costs currently stand at $1 billion.

During a budget proposal meeting for Fiscal Year 2020, Long Beach Mayor Robert Garcia said the cost will go up and down depending on the year for the next five years, but it will continue to decline overall.

“We are proud to have reached a fair and responsible tentative agreement with the Long Beach Police Officers Association,” Garcia stated in the press release. “This agreement, which includes pension reform, will allow us to continue to hire the best police recruits, and I want to thank the POA leadership and our City negotiating team for their months of hard work.”

The agreement details from Monday also provided key employee benefits such as a new paid parental-leave program, one additional holiday and a modification of holiday and vacation accruals, according to the press release.

“I believe this contract clearly reflects the strong commitment of our Mayor, City Council and City Management towards ensuring high-quality public safety for our entire community,” POA President James Foster was quoted in the press release. “We greatly appreciate the hard work of everyone who assisted in finalizing this agreement, and we expect it will help us to continue to recruit and retain the finest police officers in California.”

The POA membership voted overwhelmingly to ratify the tentative agreement during the month of August, according to a city statement.

The tentative agreement addresses issues of recruitment and retention of police officers, incentivizes professional growth in law enforcement and continues to raise the level of competence of law enforcement officers.

Key changes include:
• Three-year contract term.
• General salary increases of 4% in the first year, 3% at the start of the third year, and 2.5% six months later.
• One-time payment of $2,000 in the second year (no salary increase).
• New pension cost sharing structure that requires Classic PERS member employees to contribute an additional 3% of their salary to help offset the employer portion of pension costs.
• Increased compensation for officers that have an Advance POST certification.
• Creation of new specialized skill pays for Dive and SWAT to help incentivize critical skills for police department operations and public safety.
• Modification to the police training program which will increase patrol staffing capabilities.
• Detective Rotational Program to provide further opportunities for officers to gain experience in police investigations.
• New Paid Parental Leave benefit that provides up to 160 hours of paid leave for eligible employees following the birth of a child, adoption of a child or placement of a foster child in their home.

The City of Long Beach and POA representatives held 13 meetings since May this year prior to reaching an agreement.

The tentative agreement would be effective through Sept. 30, 2022.

The POA represents approximately 875 City of Long Beach sworn employees.