Andrew Edwards, Staff Writer
Posted: 07/16/2010 05:51:37 PM PDT

SAN BERNARDINO – The City Council may impose police officer furloughs if administrators are unable to reach a concessions deal with the rank-and-file by Monday.

“We put that item on the agenda as a placeholder in case we don’t reach an agreement,” city spokeswoman Heather Gray said.

The looming threat of furloughs is the latest development in a negotiations process that has frustrated San Bernardino Police Officers Association leadership.

Union president Rich Lawhead could not be reached for comment Friday, but a message posted Wednesday on the union’s Facebook page reports major dissatisfaction with city negotiators’ latest offer.

“We experienced a continued lack of good faith on their part and continued double talk relative to how they are reaching their figures,” the union’s Facebook page reports.

San Bernardino police officers agreed to concessions in 2009 and the union has offered to continue that deal through June 30, 2012 in exchange for an extension of their current contract through that date.

The union is also offering to use the City Charter formula used to negotiate pay levels in a way that would not allow for pay raises or cuts this year or during 2011.

The Police Officers Association’s offer will be presented to the council on Monday, according to the union’s Facebook page.

Employee concessions have become a part of life at City Hall since 2009. San Bernardino’s police officers – as well as the city’s firefighters, general employees and managers – agreed to pay cuts for the past fiscal year.

In the cases of top administrators and general employees, the council voted on June 30 to keep the past year’s 10 percent pay cut and corresponding 36-hour work weeks on a temporary basis. These cuts also result in City Hall being closed to the public on Friday.

City negotiations with a police and firefighters are still ongoing, Gray wrote in an e-mail. Firefighters are negotiating a new contract and police officers’ collective bargaining agreement is in effect until the end of the calendar year.

Monday’s request for council action that would allow City Manager Charles McNeely to impose furloughs does not detail how mandatory time off would affect police patrols or officers’ work weeks.

There is precedent for Monday’s vote – council approved police furloughs as recently as 2009. Action taken in February 2000 called for police officers to lose four hours of work per week, but that decision was short-lived even though a judge rejected the police union’s attempt to block the furloughs.

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