Union to make concessions to avoid layoffs

August 9, 2010 7:12:57 PM PDT
For the first time, Oakland police officers have voted to kick in more money for their pensions and to throw their support behind a parcel tax on the November ballot that would re-hire cops. But the cost of that tax to property owners will be steep.

The Oakland Police Officers Association agreed to pay an additional 7 percent into their pension fund, as part of an agreement with City Council to put forth a ballot measure in November.

The measure asks each property owner in Oakland to pay an additional $360 parcel tax.

"It guarantees no layoffs of people, it helps bring the 80 officers back that were laid off and it keeps the 122 officers that were threatened to be laid off, it keeps them here for three years," Dom Arotzarena from the Oakland Police Officers Association said.

With the police officers' support, getting the parcel tax on the ballot is now just a formality and though most of the council backs it, there are those who vow to campaign against it.

"I don't think it's fair, I don't think it has a chance and I think that the city of Oakland like everybody else have to do more with less, like everybody, like every homeowner in the city," Oakland Councilman Ignacio De La Fuente.

But what do homeowners think? Are they willing to chip in an additional $360 a year to keep police officers on the street?

"Right now I'm out of a job, I just lost my job. Can someone pay me an additional $360 a year to bring me back? So it's tough, it's really tough," Oakland resident Juanita Sings said.

"Obviously we do need more police officers here and the city needs the money. I'm inclined to support it as long as police are making some concessions," an Oakland resident said.

"I and my friends have talked about this and we live in Oakland. I don't think it has a chance, it's just not going to happen," another Oakland resident said.

But police officers say it's a compromise.

"I understand it's tough, but I do know that my members are going to take a larger hit," Arotzarena said.

They vow to actively campaign in favor of the parcel tax.

"We are an association negotiating with the citizens at this point," Arotzarena said.


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