This letter was submitted in response to The Beach Reporter’s question of the week.
Question of the Week
Hermosa Beach’s police and fire union leaders publicly stated that they’re upset with the city’s proposals after their latest labor negotiations. The union presidents claim they’re facing a 27-percent cut in compensation, which would jeopardize the stability of their already short-staffed departments. They fear additional cuts could pave the way for the county to take over the police and fire departments.
Do you think the police and fire departments can withstand any more cuts?
What are your thoughts about the union leaders going public with their frustrations regarding private contract negotiations?
Should residents be concerned about the county taking over the city’s police and fire departments?
(Editor’s note: Last week’s question asked readers what they thought of the contract negotiations between Hermosa Beach’s police and fire unions and the Hermosa Beach City Council).
Clearing up misconceptions
While we prefer to negotiate directly with the employee associations, rather than using the media as a forum for bargaining — a position we have consistently taken — we have a responsibility to address some disturbing misinformation that is being perpetuated by the associations’ public relations campaign.
For starters, let’s be clear on one overriding point: Public safety is, and will continue to be, the No. 1 priority for the city council. The city council is committed to continuing to have local police and fire departments. The agreement it reaches with its associations will ensure the future of local police and fire services. It is regrettable that the associations’ leaders are resorting to scare tactics and attempting to politicize the negotiations with untruthful claims that the city’s bargaining position is seeking to dismantle the police and fire departments.
Collective bargaining is challenging in the economic climate in which all cities are operating, and it is understandable that employee associations would resist change. But these are tough economic times, and the city council’s job is to protect taxpayer dollars and assure that it is paying salaries and benefits to its employees that are appropriate in light of these challenges.
We will continue to negotiate in good faith with the police and firefighter associations and pledge to the community that the final agreement we reach will provide adequate funding to protect public safety, preserve our quality of life and safeguard the city’s resources.
Mayor of Hermosa Beach