Antioch Police Officers Association (APOA) President Sgt. Tom Fuhrmann said at Tuesday’s meeting that the agreement saves the city $966,699 in salary cuts and retirement benefits. The agreement, which covers 100 sworn officers and a dozen 9-1-1 dispatchers, defers three years of salary increases and requires officers to pay 3 percent of their salary into their retirement fund. The agreement allowed the city to rescind layoff notices for six Antioch officers, originally handed out in January.
“The residents of Antioch can feel confident in knowing that the number of officers protecting our neighborhoods will not decline in 2011,” Fuhrmann told the City Council. “This is a major step forward in our battle to keep crime at bay in Antioch.”
In a press release, Fuhrmann felt that his group had done enough to help keep the city afloat. He noted that in the past, APOA capped the benefit amounts for new hires and implemented a two-tiered retiree medical benefits system. In 2009, officers did without an agreed-upon 4.8-percent pay raise and eliminated eight hours of monthly overtime.
Not everyone was pleased with the terms of the agreement, however. About 20 members of Public Employees Union Local 1 picketed Tuesday’s meeting, calling the APOA pact a “sweetheart” deal. Local 1 members include roughly 50 public works employees. The contract for that union ends Sept. 30, while the APOA’s contract with the city ends in 2013.
“We just want to be treated equal,” said Todd Northam, a street maintenance worker and the President of Local 1. “The majority of what the police have given are things they were (yet) to receive – where it was stuff we already had that was taken away. Most of the public doesn’t know that. It’s different when they’re taking what you already have compared to something you were going to get in the future.”
According to Local 1 attorney Rollie Katz, Antioch workers have made concessions such as continued furloughs, a 36-hour workweek, deferred pay raises until 2013, and an increase in workers’ money paid into pension plans.
“We are not asking you not to adopt this agreement,” Katz told councilmembers. “This city, and other cities and government agencies in this state and this country, are not in the financial crisis they’re in today because working people make too much money, because working people have labor unions, because police officers or the public works crews or secretaries have decent pensions. We are in this mess because of the financial crisis which was caused by the greed of the wealthiest people in this country.”
At a Monday press conference announcing his group’s objection to the deal, Katz blamed city officials for not being tougher on police in the face of a major budget crisis. Katz emphasized that he is not angry at the officers, but rather the City Council, which he said promised fair cuts across the board.
Jakel pointed out that while other unions negotiating with the city have been subject to layoffs, Local 1 has not. Jakel felt that negotiations have been fair and that no one group has been placed above another. Although the city’s contract with Local 1 ends Sept. 30, Jakel is confident that further talks will result in a longer agreement.
“There’s ups and downs, but I don’t have any reason to think that we won’t be able to reach an agreement,” Jakel said. “Every unit has a different term of contracts. Different benefits are being conceded. It hasn’t been the same, but all of our employees have been stepping up.”