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Police officers union makes new claims against city

by Matthew Bramlett

news@claremont-courier.com

The Claremont Police Officers Association (CPOA) has claimed the city wants to do away with salary surveys and give raises to police management.

In a statement given to the COURIER last week, the CPOA accuses the city of proposing to “forever eliminate the widely established practice.” 

Salary surveys are a regular process in contract negotiations—the two parties mutually agree upon 11 cities, and the salaries for a given position of those cities are compared.

In this case, the survey cities are Arcadia, Azusa, Brea, Chino, Covina, Glendora, La Verne, Monrovia, Montclair, Rialto and Upland.

If similar positions in other cities have higher pay than those in Claremont, salaries are adjusted to the median to remain competitive. 

In its statement, the CPOA called the alleged proposal to eliminate salary surveys a “poisoned pill.”

“They are telling us and residents that the city is not interested in attracting and maintaining quality police officers now or in the future,” the CPOA said.

Jeff Ting, the new president of the CPOA, said the city has cited budget concerns as the primary reason.

“Every time we negotiate they always tell us it’s a budget thing and the money is not there,” Mr. Ting said in a phone interview.

He said the city has conducted a salary survey for police officers and corporals and found salaries were five percent below the median of the survey cities.

“We’re not asking for a raise to buy luxurious things, we just want to keep up with the cost of living,” Mr. Ting said.

City Manager Tara Schultz declined to comment, citing ongoing contract negotiations.

The CPOA and the city have been at a stalemate for a roughly a year and half as they try to reach a mutually agreed-upon contract. Negotiations broke down in early 2019 and an impasse was declared between both parties.

In June 2019, the city council imposed terms and conditions of employment that were not agreed upon by the CPOA.

The CPOA has since claimed that morale is low and several officers are thinking about leaving for other cities.

Part of what the CPOA initially wanted was a salary increase, which the city has denied, claiming budget concerns and the desire for equity among all employee groups.

But the CPOA has also accused the city of using those same salary surveys to recommend a raise for the Claremont Police Management Association (CPMA), another employee group currently without a contract.

“These same negotiators are using a salary survey to recommend a raise for the Claremont Police Management Association without making them take the ‘poisoned pill’ they expect us to take,” the CPOA said in its statement.

Ms. Schultz also declined to comment on that allegation, but did acknowledge the city had reached a tentative agreement with the CPMA.

“Because the council has not taken action on anything yet, it’s not appropriate for me to comment,” she said.

The city will take the proposed contract with the CPMA to next Tuesday’s council meeting for a vote, Ms. Schultz said.

In the statement, the CPOA said they do not expect to be at the top of the surveyed cities, but they do not expect to be at the bottom.

“That’s not in keeping with Claremont’s reputation or that of your police department,” the association stated.

Mr. Ting said the city and the CPOA are going back to the negotiating table on Tuesday as well. He said the association is “crossing our fingers it’s going to be promising.”

He said while he understood the city’s budget concerns, the main thing CPOA members want is to keep the salary surveys.

“Were not trying to be greedy, we’re just trying to be reasonable,” Mr. Ting said.

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