San Bernardino Seal

Ryan Hagen, Staff Writer
Posted: 01/20/2013 05:32:15 PM PST

The unions representing San Bernardino’s police and firefighters have agreed to nonbinding mediation with the city as part of its bankruptcy process, after months of stalled contract negotiations.

Any discussions that are part of the process are confidential, but the agreement to go before Bankruptcy Judge Scott Clarkson was filed with U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Riverside on Wednesday. Clarkson is not the judge handling the city’s bankruptcy case.

Salaries, overtime and other benefits for firefighters and police officers have been under scrutiny as the city fights to prove it is eligible for bankruptcy protection, with supporters of the unions saying rising crime and an exodus of public-safety workers shows more support is needed and others saying six-figure take-home pay is hard to justify in a city that says it has no money to spare.

City Attorney James F. Penman said the mediation, particularly the fact that both unions will negotiate in the same room, is a tactical victory for the city.

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