Sunday, April 19, 2009 | After the City Council voted to impose Mayor Jerry Sanders’ last, best, and final offer on the San Diego Police Officers Association (SDPOA) my phone has been ringing incessantly with questions from officers about this imposed contract.
I, as well as the rest of the SDPOA Board of Directors, have grown weary over the last week of saying to them, “We don’t know.” Maybe somebody in San Diego can answer the following questions since nobody from the City Attorney’s Office, labor relations, or Mayor Sanders’ negotiating team ever answered them over the last two months and they are a large reason why there is not an agreement between the POA and the City.
1) If an employee is in the DROP program before the end of the fiscal year, are they allowed to remain in the retiree health care system that has existed for the past two decades or will they be forced into the new retiree medical plan with a capped benefit of $740.00 per month?
2) Officers hired before 1986 were promised lifetime retiree health coverage when they voted to allow the city of San Diego out of the Social Security/Medicare system. Officers voted this way, because they were told it would save taxpayers untold millions of dollars. Will they now be forced to have their health care payments capped for life at $740.00 per month when they retire, even though they do not have Medicare? An HMO purchased through Kaiser already costs a retiree well over $600 per month and the city has done virtually nothing to control the costs of its retiree health care plans.
3) In the imposed contract, it states that “the City will adopt a defined contribution medical plan for all unit members who are more than seven years from retirement eligibility on July 1, 2009.” Does this mean that employees must retire in the next seven years to avoid being placed in the defined contribution retiree medical plan or does it mean that vested officers who are older than 43 will be included in the capped system?
These questions need to be answered very quickly, because the answers to them may determine whether the San Diego Police Department loses 100 hundred officers in the next ten weeks or they lose closer to 200 officers. These answers will directly impact how SDPD moves forward as an organization and what services it will be able to provide to our community.
I should have probably just have forwarded these questions to the City Council. Surely, they never would have imposed this contract without knowing the answers to them and their likely impact on a police department that has hundreds of officers that can and will retire before these changes are implemented to preserve the promises made to them by the city.
Lastly, I know that some people will accuse me of worrying needlessly about public safety. After all, the 30 or so recruits that get hired in August should be able to ride by themselves around July 2010.
Jeff Jordon is the vice president of the San Diego Police Officers Association. He can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org.