Union president Tony Trujillo told The Santa Fe New Mexican last week that the offer was “a slap in the face” because the city was unwilling to budge on the amount of the bonuses. But Trujillo and Webber have both noted that rank and file members, not union leaders, would make the decision about the deal—and maybe as soon as Thursday. Trujillo did not immediately return a message from SFR this afternoon seeking confirmation of when the union vote might be scheduled.
Santa Fe police who are part of a labor union are set to decide this week whether they want to allow individual officers to accept retention bonus agreements offered by the city.
Mayor Alan Webber tells SFR in a in unscheduled visit to the newspaper office Monday that his administrative management team will reallocate $600,000 toward bonus pay, allowing payments in the neighborhood of $4,700 to each of more than 120 officers who promise to stay on the job for six months.
While an item on the City Council agenda for Wednesday night includes a closed-door “executive session” update on negotiations with the Santa Fe Police Officer Association, Webber says no vote has been scheduled on the matter. Instead, the city’s governing body would only vote on the bonus proposal if the union votes to accept the idea.
The mayor says he worked with the finance director and city manager to identify one-time funds that are intended to cover what he sees as a three-fold problem with overall interest in the field of policing by young people, years of poor pay for officers and competition from other jurisdictions, particularly a recent push from Albuquerque to increase its ranks. Ten Santa Fe police made the move to the bigger department.
“These three things, I think, contributed to a sense among our police that we should do something that would demonstrate that we recognize that the game has changed,” he says.
The union negotiations came after officers appeared at a City Council meeting in August to bemoan work conditions.
Webber says if the union votes in favor of what he calls a “good faith effort” contract amendment and the council subsequently approves, each eligible officer will then choose whether to sign an agreement to accept the bonus and stay on the job through June. If they vote it down, he says, it’s back to the table to talk about other ideas.
While some officers have said they want the city to increase the number of cops on the streets, the bonus deal doesn’t address that. And the mayor says he’s far from having an answer about whether it’s needed or possible. Different negotiations are underway, he tells SFR, for the city to hire a professional consultant to evaluate Police Department operations and practices.
Webber says he believes the offer addresses lingering questions of “intent and trust.”
“The ultimate goal that the city has and the manger has and the union has is the same,” he says. “We want to have the best police department we can have.”