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Brawley City Council ends contract dispute with police

April 18, 2001|By ANTHONY LONGORIA, Staff Writer

BRAWLEY — In a simple roll call vote Tuesday evening, the City Council here ended months of contract dispute with the Brawley Public Safety Employees Association, which represents police officers, dispatchers and clerical personnel.

The council voted unanimously to approve memorandums of understanding with the association.

The contract dispute began more than nine months ago when the council approved its current fiscal year budget, which granted a 3 percent pay increase for all city employees.

The association accused the council of failing to meet in good faith to negotiate contracts before adopting the budget.

Additionally, the association said the council failed to produce a counter-proposal to a proposed pay increase the association submitted before the budget approval.

Citing a study conducted by the Brawley Police Department, the association said Brawley officers responded to 171 more calls annually than El Centro police officers. Though officers were responding to more calls, the association claimed, city officers were paid 25 percent less than El Centro officers. The association also said employees were leaving for other departments that paid higher wages.

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The association filed a lawsuit accusing the city of failing to negotiate fairly.

Meanwhile, police officers took action by reducing duties, opting to only respond to life-threatening emergencies. They soon rescinded that work action.

Superior Court Judge Donal Donnelly later ruled the city had failed to negotiate with the association, voided the city's budget regarding the police union and required the two sides to negotiate a contract settlement.

For the past few months city and association representatives have continued negotiations.

The contract grants police officers and "non-sworn" department employees a 5 percent raise retroactive to July 1, 2000, a 3.5 percent pay increase for the next fiscal year and another 3.5 percent increase effective July 2002.

Additionally, the contract allows for a 5 percent bilingual pay increase for police officers and a new retirement package.

Members of the Brawley Public Safety Association were unavailable for comment this morning.

Staff Writer Anthony Longoria can be reached at 337-3452.

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