Oakland City Council Approves First Reading Of 2018 Oakland Police Union Contract

The Oakland Police Union AKA Oakland Police Officers Association and City of Oakland’s proposed contract cleared its first review by the Oakland City Council at last night’s meeting (save a “no” vote by Oakland At-Large Councilmember Rebecca Kaplan), but not without some concerns.

Oakland District Two Councilmember Abel Guillen expressed his approval with the agreement on Twitter:

Rebecca Kaplan
Councilmember Rebecca Kaplan – wants you to know she voted “no’.

Before we see them (or some of them) here’s a summary of the agreement from the City of Oakland:

The City of Oakland reached a tentative agreement on wages and other terms and conditions of employment with the Oakland Police Officers Association (“OPOA”), representation units PP1 and PT1, and the Oakland Police Management Association (“OPMA”), representation unit UN2.

Similar wages and terms and conditions are also effective for the unrepresented classifications of Chief of Police and Assistant Chief of Police, representation unit UN1. The above groups are collectively referred to as “sworn police employees” and the term is upon ratification through June 30, 2024.

Significant terms of this tentative agreement include, but are not limited to, wage increases and changes to City-paid retiree health benefits that caps active employees and current retirees and aligns new hires’ benefits with the City’s miscellaneous, non-sworn employees.

The changes to retiree health benefits represent a significant Other Post-Employment Benefits (“OPEB”) relief to the City projected to reduce the unfunded liability by over $350 million.

The proposed amendment to the Salary Ordinance provide a zero percent wage increase in fiscal year 2019/202; two-and-one-half percent (2.5%) wage increase effective the first pay period in July 20201; three percent (3%) wage increase effective the first pay period in July 2021; three- and-one-half percent (3.5%) wage increase effective the first pay period in July 1,2022; and three- and-one-half percent (3.5%) wage increase effective the first pay period in July 2023.

Now, the concerns: there are Oaklanders who believe this contract should have come before the Oakland Police Commission for review. They don’t want the police to get a raise without a performance review from the Oakland Police Commission.

In this, there’s a really huge misunderstanding of what the Oakland Police Commission is specifically allowed to do or request to do under Measure LL and the Oakland City Charter. That said, review of payments and contracts with the City of Oakland does arguably fall under a grey area that favors the Police Commission, and this matter must be sorted out. It’s clear Oaklanders expect the Oakland Police Commission to actually run the Oakland Police Department, and not just review its actions after the fact.

There’s one wording that backs their expectations and its at 4(b) of Measure LL…

Section 1. Amendment to the Charter of the City of Oakland.
Creation and Role.
There hereby is established the Oakland Police Commission (hereinafter,
Commission), which shall oversee the Oakland Police Department (hereinafter, Department) in order to ensure that its policies, practices, and customs conform to national standards of constitutional policing. The Commission shall have the functions and duties enumerated in this Section, as well as those assigned to the Commission by Ordinance.
There hereby is established a Community Police Review Agency
(hereinafter, Agency), which shall have the functions and duties enumerated
in this Section, as well as those assigned to the Agency by Ordinance.
Nothing herein shall prohibit the Chief of Police or a commanding officer
from investigating the conduct of a Department sworn employee under his or
her command, nor shall anything herein prohibit the Chief of Police from
taking disciplinary or corrective action with respect to complaints
investigated solely by the Department.
No later than two (2) years after the City Council has confirmed the first set of Commissioners and alternates, the City Auditor shall conduct a performance audit and a financial audit of the Commission and the Agency. Nothing herein shall limit the City Auditor’s authority to conduct future performance and financial audits of the Commission and the Agency.
Powers and Duties.
The powers and duties of the Commission are as follows:
Organize, reorganize and oversee the Agency

What Does Organize, Reorganize And Oversee The Agency Mean?

That is the question. Well, to this blogger, a cold reading of the words points to the Oakland Police Commission being able to review and approve a contract between the City of Oakland and the Oakland Police Department. There’s no other language that counters the wording.

What a mess.

If one agrees that the Oakland City Council should have allowed the Oakland Police Commission to review the Oakland Police Union contract, then it’s hard to escape the notion that the City Council violated the City Charter.

If one does not agree, and points to the rest of the language of Measure LL, saying that the implied restriction on Police Commission power was to oversight of police conduct, then it sets the stage for a battle. I disagree with that take; the people of Oakland clearly want citizen control of the Oakland Police Department, and arguably already have it in Measure LL. Where there is a disagreement, there must be language to clarify lines of power and to stop the disagreement.

Stay tuned.

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