Our current staffing level is 1260. Last year during negotiations the City made it clear that we had to get down to 1202. They informed us, that we could layoff officers or take a temporary cut in pay to prevent these layoffs. The City made it clear that the one-year cut in pay was just a stop-gap measure and that by the end of June 2011 we still needed to get down to 1202. Some of you questioned why we would try to delay layoffs when we would just be in the same situation next year. Our answer is simpleit bought us time. It bought us 1 year.
That 1 year allows for further retirements and gives those on the chopping block a chance to look for another place to work if they are so inclined. It is my understanding that we will have approximately 70 members eligible to retire by the end of June 2011. If all of them retired, and if the City holds true to the 1202 staffing level, then we wont have to worry about layoffs. Having said that, if I was on the chopping block, I would still want to keep my options open. You have several months to see if there are other opportunities out there for you.
I am not trying to kick you out the door, but you cant count on the above numbers holding true and you cant count on the membership to take another pay cut to prevent layoffs for a second year. My guess is that a lot of our members will take the approach that they bought you a year and what did with it is on you. I hope that all of those that can retire do so. Go enjoy the rest of your life. You only get one.
Conceivably, we could find ourselves below the 1202 staffing level by the end of June 2011. One of the questions I asked during our last round of negotiations was if we went below 1202, would we allow that to stand or would the City hire more officers to keep us at 1202. I was told that we would hire more officers to stay at the 1202 level. Hmmmm, several months to recruit, test and background, five months in the academy and another four months in FTO. I dont think were going to make our July 1st goal.
The City has been approved to hire 16 new officers under the Federal COPS grant. City staff is still deciding whether or not to accept the grant of $7 million. The money would pay for the first three years of the new officers careers and the City would have to commit to keeping the officers for at least one more year at a cost of a little over $3 million.
The POA election starts on November 1st. Please vote. The City does look at our participation level. Go to sjpoa.com during the 2-week voting period and take just a few minutes out of your day and vote.
Lastly, to all of you who called, emailed and sent me text messages after my op-ed, thank you for your support and your thoughts.