San Bernardino Seal

Police, fire departments included in decision
Ryan Hagen, Staff Writer
Posted: 01/28/2013 07:09:41 PM PST

Special Section: San Bernardino

SAN BERNARDINO – Contract negotiations with seven city employee groups ended Monday as the City Council voted to accept new contracts that cut nearly $26million in pay and benefits, in some cases without agreement from those unions.

The votes, which followed almost three hours of closed-door conversations by the council, implement cuts to police, fire and other employee groups that the council had included in a budget plan submitted to U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Riverside in November.

Finally getting them approved is vital to the city’s efforts to prove it’s serious about a plan to balance its budget and thus is eligible for bankruptcy protection, said Councilman Fred Shorett.

“In my view, these resolutions that we’re working with tonight are critical to the future of the city and sustaining it,” Shorett said, “not only getting us into bankruptcy (court) but leading us on a path out of bankruptcy.”

This was an important vote, but it was too early to impose contracts unilaterally, said Councilman Robert Jenkins.

“We need to have a good working relationship with all our employes, and I commend and thank the bargaining units that were able to come to an agreement,” Jenkins said. “Those that we don’t have an agreement with, I believe that we were close.”

Some unions had voted to approve the new contracts with the city, and those passed with a 5-2 vote. Others – the union representing middle managers, which is arguing in court that the city doesn’t qualify for bankruptcy protection, and the police and fire unions – had failed to reach agreement after months of attempted negotiations, giving the city the legal right and necessity to unilaterally impose the cuts, according to the resolutions.

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