Wes Woods II, Staff Writer
Created: 11/12/2011 09:28:09 PM PST
CLAREMONT – The Claremont Police Officers Association has taken two legal actions to protest the City Council forcing its members to increase their retirement contribution by 6 percent.
An unfair labor practice charge was filed in late October with the state Public Employment Relations Board. The city has 30 days to respond to the filing.
Attorneys for the association also filed a writ of mandate in Pomona Superior Court requesting salary information for Claremont’s city manager, assistant city manager, City Council members, retired members of the council and executives of city departments.
Both actions were filed “because we were treated differently than the rest of the city,” said Dieter Dammeier, attorney for the Claremont Police Officers Association, referring to the Oct. 25 council decision.
Dammeier often has said other city employees pay only 3 percent into the retirement fund, even though city officials say it is 6 percent for all.
According to the association’s filing with the PERB, the city’s chief negotiator Richard M. Kreisler made a threat on July 20 that implied the “CPOA was being punished for exercising their rights to bargain and not accept what the city had already agreed to with the rest of the employees.”
Furthermore, the document describes that the “threat,” which “makes clear that the city seeks to unilaterally impose a one-year, 6 percent (PERS contribution) with a 1.5 percent offsetting salary increase. A immediate net 4.5 percent loss is obviously draconian in comparison with the 1.5 percent net loss contained in the first year of the city’s previous three year offer.”
The city voted 3-2 to invoke the police contribution.
A status hearing is set for the mandate at 8:30a.m. Nov.23 in Pomona Superior Court.
City officials have denied Dammeier’s charges and have said the city has treated the association exactly like other employee groups.
City officials said the city will comply with the union’s requests, but because the volume of material asked for has been so large, it has been unable to produce all of the documentation so far.
Dammeier criticized the city for being too slow in handing over documents. For that reason, he was forced to file the writ of mandate to obtain them.
A letter requesting the salary information was sent on July 22, according to the writ. The city did respond but said the information would take some time to prepare.
The city sent the information on Aug. 18 to the association but Dammeier said it did not include everything requested.
City Attorney Sonia Carvalho said the city had answered Dammeier’s requests in a timely manner, but some of his requests were too broad.
“We did acknowledge receipt of the Public Records Act request back this summer,” Carvalho said. “However, it did take the CPOA over two months before they showed up at City Hall to pick up the responsive documents, which were numerous.”
Carvalho said the request was “extraordinarily broad in scope” and the city clerk had contacted Dammeier’s office on several occasions offering to sit down and help Dammeier to focus his request to get the documents faster but “he refused that.”
She said one of Dammeier’s requests “wanted every single email between department heads and the city manager for a year period. For us to go open up every single file the city has…our retention policy is such that emails are deleted after 60 days unless they pertain to an ongoing project and then city staff is supposed to print them out and they remain on file.”
Dammeier said what he requested delved into financial issues which would assist them with the unfair labor practice claim.
“We asked for emails from the city manager,” Dammeier said. “Also pay stubs, texts, contracts and all that stuff. The gave us some general stuff…but we haven’t seen any of the emails we’ve asked for. We keep pushing for what they’re trying to hide.”
Carvalho said the city had 500 emails they were preparing to turn over to Dammeier and other information.
Mayor Sam Pedroza said the city would “do everything we legally have to do.”