San Jose Police Union Loses Arbitration Battle with City, Exodus of Officers Feared

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    NEWSLETTERS

    An arbitration ruling in a labor battle between San Jose and the police union is leading to fears of a new exodus from the city’s police department. Damian Trujillo reports.

    More than 50 San Jose police officers have either retired or resigned this year alone. Many are frustrated over decreasing pay and benefits. Now, sources tell NBC Bay Area there may be a new exodus.

    The worry comes after an arbitration ruling in a labor battle between the city and the police union.
    Multiple sources tell NBC Bay Area the arbitrator ruled against the San Jose Police Officers Association. The verdict is confidential for 10 days from that ruling.

    But, well-placed sources tell NBC Bay Area, police officers will have their accrued vacation time capped. The officers’ ability to cash out sick time will also be capped.

    The sources say the officers will not get back the 10 percent in pay they gave up to help the city balance its books during the recession.

    “That worries me,” said former SJPD Acting Chief Thomas Wheatley.

    Wheatley spent almost 31 years on the force and worries what the arbitrators ruling will mean for the department that was once one of the elite departments in the nation.

    “It’s going to hurt,” said Wheatley.  “I just hope it’s not going to hurt for a long time where it becomes acceptable to be just an average department.”

    Willow Glen Neighborhood Association President Richard Zappelli said he too is worried. He said he has seen a rise in home and car burglaries in Willow Glen.

    Zappelli said his concerns are echoed by neighborhood associations across the city.

    “I’m very concerned about the fact that our police department is very shorthanded right now. We’ve got a lot of problems, unbelievably, in Willow Glen right now,” said Zappelli.

    The city manager’s office confirms with NBC Bay Area that a verdict is in, but the city charter prevents the city or any other party involved in arbitration from disclosing the verdict for 10 days.

    Both sides can still negotiate a better deal during that time, but the verdict in this case becomes binding July 11 at 2 p.m.

    However, both sides can still agree to extend the 10-day waiting period.

    Morale, retention and recruitment are already hurting on the force. Wheatley fears it could get much worse.