Updated: Aug 31
Los Banos Talk
On August 23, 2021 the Los Banos Police Officer Association published a press release that declared the Association and City are now officially at an impasse. The press release outlines several grievances and alleged unfair practices by the City in order to justify Los Banos continuing to be one of the lowest paid cities in the state. According to the press release and POA, the City seemingly sparred no expense in their fight to keep local wages low, as they hired an attorney from out of the city to specifically negotiate with the Association. The City then conducted a survey which showed that Los Banos was underpaying its officers, so then the City created its own survey removing nearby cities like Hollister and Morgan Hill to keep the average salary low, despite the fact that we have lost 2 officers to Hollister in the last year alone. Even with this new cherry picked survey the city is still behind the fair market value. The City offered our police a 2% annual raise, which may seem like a raise but actually it is a pay cut, due to inflation.
Current inflation is estimated to be about 2.4%, and according to multiple sources, long term inflation rate is projected to stay at a steady rate of 2.3% over the next several years. Many jobs pay a slight increase each year adjusting for inflation, and this is standard practice with most government positions, but under the current proposed contract by the City, officers can effectively expect a .3-.4% decrease in purchasing power per year for the duration of the contract. Offering an annual salary increase lower than projected and current inflation, is effectively a pay cut, and they know it.
The City will have a closed session meeting regarding this this Thursday, at the regular meeting time. Ultimately the city can simply force the association to take the contract regardless, but it could result in losing even more seasoned officers in an already largely rookie force. Currently our local retention rates are abysmal as of writing this about 2/3 of our force has less than 18 months experience on the job, and over half are under the age of 25. Virtually all the members of the city council openly agree our police aren't paid enough and that we need more officers, and really more veteran officers, but apparently in closed session meetings, vote the exact opposite.
Some in city hall seem to believe that the construction of the new police headquarters and jail is payment enough, but a nice office doesn't pay the bills. Also worth noting is that the City failed to make repairs on the old building until it reached the point of being cheaper to build a new one. This is an artifical problem created by the city not maintaining what they had, and it doesn't make sense to punish officers for something they aren't responsible for. It's like asking for gratitude for fixing a problem that you yourself created in the first place. Final point on the new building is that it is already budgeted for, yet we still have an annual surplus year after year, and citizens voted on measure H with the understanding we would use it to retain and hire new officers, much of measure H goes untouched year after year and then goes to the general fund where it can be spent however the council wishes. Considering that Los Banos had more crime last year than Merced and Atwater combined, its not crazy to think they deserve to be paid as much if not more than them.
Tonight's episode of Los Banos Talk, Justin Collins interviews Paul Llanez ,who is the President of the Los Banos Police Officers Association, and we go more into detail as to what the negotiation process has been like and how our officers feel about this current contract.
Here is the press release in the form of screen shots taken from the Facebook Page.
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