San Luis Obispo declares impasse with police officers union

San Luis Obispo has declared an impasse with the San Luis Obispo Police Officers Association after failing to reach an agreement with the group in negotiations during the last six months.

The union, which represents more than 60 employees, is the only remaining employee group to settle with the city, which is seeking to cut $3.1 million in employee compensation cuts — or 6.8 percent per employee — as a way to balance its current two-year budget.

This is the first time that an impasse has been declared with the police union since binding arbitration was repealed by voters in August.

The union now has the option of meeting with City Manager Katie Lichtig, who acts as the city's employer-employee relations officer, or going into mediation. After that a fact-finding process allows both the parties to outline their concerns.

If an agreement is not reached, the City Council will be tasked with making the final decision.

Tension between the city and the police union is ongoing. In April the state agency that oversees the collective bargaining statutes with cities filed an unfair practice complaint against the city of San Luis Obispo on behalf of the police union.

The complaint is part of a contentious battle between the San Luis Obispo Police Officers Association and the city following the City Council's decision last year to seek voter approval to change the way the city bargains with its public safety employees.

The union filed the complaint with the Public Employment Relations Board in mid-October alleging that the city violated its obligation to meet and confer even though the city says it did not.

The police union wants to upend the voters' decision to repeal binding arbitration as a way to negotiate wages and benefits by the unions.