San Jose Police Lose Arbitration, Some Officers Threaten to Leave Department

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    NEWSLETTERS

    Decision could mean an exodus of experienced officers in San Jose. Damian Trujillo reports. (Published Thursday, Jul 11, 2013)

    No backpay and no payouts.

    The San Jose police officers union has lost its arbitration case against the city over salary and benefits. It’s a story NBC Bay Area first broke last week. Thursday, it became official.

    Fears of New Exodus from San Jose PD

    [BAY] Fears of New Exodus from San Jose PD
    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. (Published Wednesday, Jul 3, 2013)

    The city says the decision will help keep libraries open. The cops say the decision could mean an exodus of experienced officers.

    The city says it still wants to negotiate. San Jose Mayor Chuck Reed says a 10 percent raise is still on the table. But the union says it’s not really 10 percent.

    NBC Bay Area spoke with one veteran officer who said he’s had enough.

    Homicide detective Juan Jose Vallejo says he is calling other police departments, asking if they want to hire him. Vallejo says the last straw was the arbitrators ruling capping sick pay that San Jose officers can cash out at the end of their careers and capping vacation payouts.

    And, the arbitrator ruled, officers can’t have back the 10 percent in salary they gave up two years ago to help the city balance its books.

    “If it was an emotional decision for me, I would stay, but it’s not emotional,” said Vallejo. “I would be doing a disservice to my kids, my wife, and I have to really look at the financials.”

    “I’m concerned about the loss of officers,” said Mayor Reed. “We’ve had a lot of resignations. We’ve had a lot of retirements. We’re not at authorized staffing.”

    But, the mayor says the city can’t afford what the cops want, because that would mean closing libraries and community centers.

    “Our offer still stands, even though we went into arbitration, we did not revoke our offer, and we’d like to give our cops a pay raise,” Reed said.

    In a memo obtained exclusively by NBC Bay Area, SJPD’s chief asks officers not to call for a “blue flu” as a result of the ruling, meaning calling in sick in protest. He asks the union to negotiate, and he urges his officers to stay.

    But it’s too little, too late for Vallejo, a 10-year veteran of the force.

    “My roots are here in San Jose,” said Vallejo. “it’s a tough decision that I’ve had to make.”

    “He’s one of the best and we’re gonna lose him,” said union president Jim Unland. “Quality people we’re gonna lose. And I don’t care how many academies they’re able to get, you don’t replace somebody like that overnight.”