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New Times / News

The following article was posted on May 4th, 2011, in the New Times - Volume 25, Issue 40 [ Submit a Story ]
The following articles were printed from New Times [newtimesslo.com] - Volume 25, Issue 40

SLO police file suit against SLO City

BY ROBERT A. McDONALD

San Luis Obispo’s largest police union filed a civil lawsuit May 3 against the city, claiming the City Council is attempting to unfairly upend established bargaining processes.

The San Luis Obispo Police Officers Association (SLOPOA) claims in its lawsuit that SLO city councilmembers violated “meet and confer” laws by deciding to place two items on the ballot: binding arbitration and another measure that would allow the City Council to reduce employee benefits. Current city codes state that only the public can vote to reduce such benefits. The union is seeking a judicial injunction that would stop the city from putting the ballot measures to a vote.

Though the City Council is due to schedule the date of the election at its next meeting, members have already voted to put the two measures on the ballot. The lawsuit claims the city didn’t “meet and confer” with the union before making that decision, a step the union claims violates state law and the city charter.

City Attorney Christina Dietrick told New Times the city has fulfilled all its legal obligations.

In a statement released by SLOPOA President Matt Blackstone, he said, “The conduct of the City of San Luis Obispo is not unlike the scenarios playing out in Wisconsin and many other areas of our country with regard to the collective bargaining process. The meet and confer obligation is at the very heart of this issue. The City Council and city staff cannot ignore this obligation simply because it does not fit within the timeline of the changes the city wishes to implement. The Police Officers Association hopes that the city will enter into constructive discussions on these issues and avoid forcing a premature and costly litigation process to both parties.”