Judge Denies San Jose Police Pay Raises in Arbitration Ruling

Retired Judge John A. Flaherty denied pay increases for police officers in his arbitration ruling between the city of San Jose and the Police Officers Association, refusing to restore wages that were cut by 10 percent in 2011.

This arbitration ruling is the first conducted under the city charter as amended by 2010’s voter-approved Measure V, which established that if two sides of a bargaining dispute cannot reach an agreement, a retired superior court judge would be appointed to decide the case.

The POA gave media interviews at its headquarters Thursday, and union president Jim Unland argued that the city is well on its way to financial recovery and has $92 million in general fund reserves.

“It has nothing to do with not being able to pay (salaries),” Unland told San Jose Inside. “It’s a philosophy that everyone took a 10-percent cut, so everyone gets a 2 percent raise.

“(City Manager Debra Figone) used the word ‘equity.’”

Flaherty was selected to chair the board based on mutual agreement from the city and the POA. Unland and Deputy City Manager Alex Gurza also sat on the board. Flaherty, with Gurza concurring and Unland dissenting, adopted the city’s proposal for each of the eight issues addressed in the arbitration process.

With regard to wages, the most significant of the eight issues, Flaherty acknowledged “there is a compelling need to increase wages within a reasonable time period.” He added that the two sides would have to reach an agreement outside of arbitration.

“While there is undoubtedly a number that will begin to restore wages to their prior level and allow the City to do so in a fiscally responsible manner, the parties have not been able to agree on that number.”

The arbitration decision was reached July 1, yet was kept confidential for 10 days to allow continued negotiations between the city and the POA. However, the POA apparently ignored the city’s requests to participate in negotiations, according to a July 11 letter signed by Jennifer Schembri, the city’s deputy director of employee relations.

“We all agree that we need to start to increase pay for our police officers,” Figone said in a statement Thursday. “Our challenge is to find a solution that is sustainable for the long term and does not impair other vital city services.”

The recent arbitration decision is the latest in a series of conflicts between the city and the POA. Pension negotiations between the city and the police union in April almost went to arbitration, before a last minute deal reduced police officers’ pensions. Yet the legal fight over pension reform through Measure B remains ongoing. Unland said parties are expected back in court July 22.

Such conflicts over pay increases and pension plans have led to an exodus of police officers. As a result, Unland has been the target of criticism for what some in and around City Hall have seen as encouraging that exodus—a notion the POA president disputes.

“I don’t know if encouragement is the right word,” Unland said. “I put the facts out. If anyone thinks grown adults—cops—are making life decisions because Jim Unland told them so, that ain’t the case.

“These new guys in the academy, absolutely they understand what tier-two pension means. That’s my job to make sure they understand this stuff. Absolutely they’re going to look elsewhere; they’d be foolish not to.

“My responsibility, in my mind, in the way I run [the POA], is for the individuals, not the association.”

Unland says that the department is losing roughly 100 officers a year, and gaining only about 80 new recruits. (See a list below this article for numbers tracking department staffing.) If the trend continues, he said, the department will not survive.

“There’s a real possibility that there is no SJPD in five years, and there’s no POA in five years,” Unland said. “Businesses fail all the time.”

While not offering a full restoration of wages cut in recent years, city officials have said they are committed to continuing negotiations. Unland argues that the 9-percent offer recently presented by the city is more like a 2-percent bump.

“The charter clearly encourages public safety contracts to be settled through negotiations, rather than by arbitration, and that continues to be our goal,” Gurza said. “To this end, we continue to offer pay increases and hope we can reach a settlement with the POA soon.”

San Jose Police Department staffing (Provided by the Police Officers Association)
Authorized — 1109
Actual — 1063
Sworn-Solo — 975
FTO — 43
Academy — 45
Disabilities/Family Leave — 45
Modified — 29
Military/Other — 14
Health Sworn-Solo — 887

Working Patrol — Approx. 392
Historically Patrol — Approx. 600
Weekly O.T. Cars — 32

Past 2 Years — 70 Resignations Per Year
Historically — 4 Resignations Per Year

Resignations — 70
Resignations — 70
Retirement — 34

Resignations — 35 + 3 Pending
Retirement — 19 + 10 Pending

Eligible Retirements
2013 — 30
2014 — 27
2015 — 65
2016 — 37
2017 — 50

Since 1998 the total has always been in the 20’s with the exception of 2007 (33) and 2008 (31).
2010 — 20
2011 — 40
2012 — 46
2013 YTD — 26

Josh Koehn contributed to this report.


  1. Why is San Jose the only city that is still having a problem.  The heart of silicone valley cannot afford a police department. However SF is hiring 100 of new cops and pays way better, has better benefits and a better pension plan.  Someone is not telling the truth.  THe biggest exodus of police officers leaving a city in US history.  over 600 officers have left since around 2009.  And the city has done nothing to stop the officers from leaving.  the current graduating class has lost new rookies officers that have already quit.  San Jose will become a training ground for new officers for decades.  Officers will be hired and maybe some that in the past would not have made it. But there will be such a need they city will hire anyone.  This will bring more lawsuits and cost the taxpayers millions in training new officers.  The senior officer will be one with 3 years. The capts and lt will be ones with 5 years at age of 30.  This will be a disaster for the residents.  Reed took over the city as the safest in the USA. Graffiti and other crimes were almost non existent.  Now we have a city out of control…  Reed is leading us to a point that will take decades to repair.  Reed was unable to negotiate with Baseball so he sued.  Unable to negotiate with his own police dept. so he goes to court. Unable to find a Chief of Police who even wants to run this organization. Once a candidate finds out about all the turmoil… They say no thank you and move on.  When will someone with common sense start to talk.  Ask Karla is probably at this point the only one the police trust. Let him negotiate the deal.. and lets save our PD.

  2. Today’s announcement just opened the floodgates wider for experienced SJPD officers to immediately flee this department. There will be at 75-100 officers leaving for other departments and private industry in the next few months who had been holding out slim hope this Mayor and City Council would come to their senses. The officers that will soon leave represent hundreds of years of collective institutional knowledge that will forever lost as a direct result of this Mayor and most City Council Members. These officers also represent millions and millions of dollars of an investment in their training, paid for by San Jose citizens, that other cities will get for free, while San Jose must spend millions more in hiring and training for new officers. Hopefully this mayor and the 14% of San Jose voters that put these draconian measures in place can sleep well with their decisions, which have destroyed the SJPD. By the way, it is not hyperbole to say in a very few years, as Sgt Unland suggested, SJPD could be disbanded at the rates officers are leaving for other employers and are due to retire; there is no longer any reason for them to stay and work for an employer that treats them like garbage.

  3. Goodbye SJPD because the city will contract with the SO in the not to distant future.  It will be their way to settle Measure B.  No cops equals no more pension problems.

  4. I Applaud Jim Unland for speaking the truth to his fellow officers. He is correct that he needs to do what is best for the membership , the choice is theirs. This City has already made it perfectly clear what it thinks of Public Safety . I dont blame any Public Saftey for leaving the cesspool that is San Jose . Most of these individuals have familys and have to do what is best for them if that means going else where , where they wil be treated better,paid better, better benefitted, then so be it .
    Lets be Honest Negotiations with this city are absolutely unrealistic . this city only knows how to Impose and NOT negotiate. why would they go thru the charade ?? Lawsuits are going to be the only way , until all of the corrupt are gone . History will tell you that Sa Jose does not fair so well when it comes to lawsuits .

  5. This Mayor and City Council need to deal with this crisis immediately. As most know, they get the month of July off, but this is such an urgent matter, if this mayor cares in the least about either the SJPD or the safety of the citizens of San Jose, he would have them reconvene tomorrow to deal with this, and not wait till mid August at least. By then, another 20 officers minimum could have resigned.

  6. Thank you, SanJoseInside, for providing more facts in one article than MN has in all its coverage of these issues to date. I look forward to more of the same. No matter what opinions readers may ultimately draw about police retirement and compensation, those opinions should be based on facts, not the Chuck Reed PR that the MN has been foisting on the public.

  7. If you ever, as a thrill-seeking little kid making your way to the most exciting ride at the fair, found yourself confronted by the ominous “You must be this tall to ride this ride,” then you have a pretty good starting point for understanding the arbitrator’s deliberative process under the new, bastardized arbitration rules. You see, Mayor Reed has managed, through his “reform” package, to reduce the arbitrator’s role to that of a carnival ride operator, dully and dutifully enforcing a sign that reads: “The City has to increase its tax revenues this much before you get a raise.”

    Citing charter section 1111, Judge Flaherty ruled he was “legally confined” from using anything but the city’s annual tax revenue increase to make his decision. Neither the City’s ability to pay nor the merits of the POA’s proposal (both of which he affirmed) could factor into his decision; in other words, the POA’s proposal was dead on arrival and the arbitration process has been neutered, just as Chuck Reed intended.

    Congratulations Mayor Reed, you’ve figured out how to disarm the POA at the bargaining table. Enjoy your victory, for you will very soon find yourself bargaining not with a labor organization but with each and every one of its members.

    Once before the City held all the bargaining chips and refused to negotiate, leaving the cops without a pay raise for several consecutive years of double-digit inflation. And then the cops, cognizant of the POA’s impotence and unwilling to take another hit to their buying power, acted on their own. They didn’t come to work. And guess who held the chips then?

    Our cops have been speaking with their feet for several years now, leaving SJPD in droves. This will continue, perhaps at an even faster rate. Those left behind—many of them senior officers, have been exhausting their physical and psychological reserves working short-staffed and overtime to keep police services from collapsing; soon they will find themselves neither willing nor able to continue squandering health and home life to subsidize the City’s managerial incompetence and the mayor’s union-busting agenda.

    By allowing itself to become indistinguishable from its duplicitous cretin of a mayor, the Figone administration has turned itself into a pariah: hated by its employees and shunned by qualified outsiders. It has squandered the enduring loyalty that made it possible for SJPD to deliver decades of topnotch police services at minimal staffing, recklessly turning that invaluable loyalty into intense wrath.

    The bargaining is about to get rougher.

    • Everything you wrote is so true. I have a feeling that things are about to become disastrous to the extreme. This city is edging in on big trouble, safety wise. Officers will now be leaving faster than they ever were. This was not a win for the citizens. It is to their detriment. reed has destroyed this city. It is sad to see it being torn apart like this. I am so surprised the citizens have not gotten together and run him out of office.

  8. It is my understanding that police will be taking another paycut of 2% at the end of July, is this true?.  From what I’m understanding by following all this is that SJPD has been taking some type of paycuts for the last 4 to 5 years now and are making a salary from about 2004.  This is ridiculous how would you expect anyone to want to stay.  Wake up San Jose I think a storm is coming.

    • The police did take another 2% pay-cut as of July 1st, and yes, that brings police salaries back to the 2004 level. Thus why officers are leaving SJPD as fast as they can, and no experienced officer from any other department ever comes to San Jose.

  9. City manager will remedy this deficiency by simply changing the authorized staffing to 800 officers.
    Whaddya know? The department is overstaffed! Crime problem solved. IPA gets a raise.
    Everyone happy again.
    Typical San Jose resident: Insert head back into sand.

  10. Maybe it’s time for neighborhoods to secede from San Jose and either incorporate as their own town, or join the nearest, and more stable neighbor, such as Campbell, Cupertino, Morgan Hill or Santa Clara.

    The mayor and council got exactly what they were sold by their consultant attorneys, but they must not have been told about the part of the unintended consequences.

  11. This city council and mayor have no excuse for not being in session now, and instead taking the entire month of July off. After what has happened in the past few weeks, there are many, many San Jose Police Officers who are now taking jobs with other cities. These officers can no longer survive in this city making what they did here in 2003. They can no longer afford to raise a family here, or pay for housing. There are even more officers that will soon be applying to surrounding cities, and soon leaving. So the citizens of San Jose realize that close to 200 officers have left in the past couple years for other departments?? The citizens of San Jose have paid at least $40 MILLION DOLLARS to train these officers, that other cities are now getting for FREE, because this mayor and city council do not have the brains (Except for Ash Kalra, and a couple others)to watch after this investment, choosing pet projects to pay for instead. This mayor and majority of the city council have just destroyed this once fine police department and destroyed morale within the department. Perhaps at this point it would be better for the SJPD to be absorbed by surrounding cities and the sheriff’s department. Mayor Reed, and council members Constant, Luigi, Nguyen, Rocha, Liccardo, Herrera, and Khamis love to give public lip service to supporting the SJPD, but have done nothing but destroy it by their actions.

    PS to Mayor Reed, Pier and Pete Constant…how is that idea of using the 50 San Jose Police Reserves to save the SJPD working out? Any other great ideas?