The Oro Valley Police Officer's Association ("OVPOA"), also known as "Town's Public Safety Employee Group" has negotiated "... a 2-year MOU providing for full implementation of the Town's market study with step ownership on July 1, 2014, and step increases in both FY 2014/2015 and FY 2015/2016. "
(Source: Town Staff Corbin Report)
The Salary Scales Are Based On A Possibly Flawed Market Study
The "town's market study" is a study that compares Oro Valley employee salaries and wages in communities that are almost 3 times the size of Oro Valley. They are in Maricopa County. That study concluded that Oro Valley employees are not paid comparable to these communities.
"The only new costs associated with this MOU are the proposed changes to the Police Pay Structure which were recommended by the Waters Consulting Group after they conducted the market study. The one-time cost of implementing the structure is approximately $500,000 and will be a part of the recommended 2014-2015 budget."The $500,000 is about 6% of police direct pay personnel costs.
(Oro Valley's police budget for 2014 is $14.1 million. $13.8 million is from the general fund. This is 48.1% of general fund expenditures. Total town budget personnel costs are $25.1 million. $19.7 million are supported by the general fund. There are 134.1 full time equivalent employees in the police budget. These employees receive approximately 74% of total budgeted personnel costs of $11.6 million. So, pay to police employees is about $8.6 million. The added $500,000 one time adjustment proposed by the MOU is a 6% bump in pay.)
"Insiders" Negotiated The MOU
The MOU, which must be approved by council, defines the salaries, terms and conditions of the employment of the police.
Winners and Losers
For the police, reporting to council and then influencing the majority of council through endorsements are the two key ingredients for OVPOA negotiating success.
The OVPOA follows the playbook detailed in the text: "Police Union Power, Politics, and Confrontation in the 21st Century: New Challenges, New Issues."
The book instructs to support friendly candidates and to score incumbents based on how they voted in relation to union related matters. A "B" or better warrants a continued endorsement.
According to the text, police union candidate support should go beyond endorsements. The book speaks at length of providing media support to candidates, using PAC money, and providing manpower to a candidate's effort: "The reason firefighters have so much influence... is that they own the yard sign franchise...candidates are getting yard signs printed and, in many cases, installed by fire fighters."
The book notes that the police department should expect the following: "When you endorse a candidate... make sure to extract a price. This candidate needs you much more than you need him or her. Get this candidate's binding promise to support the pay raise, next collective bargaining agreement or whatever else is your top issue before you make the endorsement. Then remember to collect on the promise after the election." (This from page 114 of the text)
Lack Of Independent Negotiation Is The Problem
So, you may ask: "Why is this a problem?" Unions, after all, have using these same tactics for years. And, they have been successful in doing so. In addition, it is their right to do so.
We agree. Lack of independent negotiation is not a problem for the union, of course. It is also not a problem for a town employee as long as they stand down from challenging the union. The town's employees involved in the negotiations have good reason to avoid angering the OVPOA. All they need to do is look to what happened to Town Manager David Andrews in 2010. (Read: Evil Trickster of Oro Valley).
It is a problem for the residents of Oro Valley.
It is a problem because, to this point, there has been group beholden to the people of Oro Valley who are negotiating on their behalf.
Our Analysis: A Sweet Deal For The Cops
That is the role of the town council. In most instances that would be sufficient to represent the people. Not at this time however.
What will council do Wednesday night? Here is our surmise:
The Majority-4 on council were endorsed by the OVPOA. They fawn publicly over anything police related. They gush each time they mention the name of Oro Valley Police Chief Sharp. They have yet to demonstrate that they will provide a critical eye to police operations and spending.
Only Council Member's Burns, Garner and Zinkin are independent of the police. They were not endorsed by the police union. In fact, OVPOA has actively complained against Council Member Zinkin, and has refused to talk with Council Member Burns.
The OVPOA has driven Oro Valley politics for years. It will continue to do so until voters elect council members who do not have the OVPOA "seal of approval."
Wednesday: "An Agreement Rich In Fringe Benefits"