After hours of contentious debate and warnings of political repercussions, Phoenix City Council members voted 5-4 yesterday to impose a labor contract with pay and benefit cuts on the city’s 2,386 police officers, reports the Arizona Republic. Dozens of officers filled the council’s chambers to rail against the contract. The vote highlighted a new level of discord between the city and its largest employee union as well as a bitter split between the unions representing police and firefighters in Phoenix, the nation’s sixth-largest city.
It was the first time in city history that the council voted to impose a contract on one of the city’s five labor unions. Each of the other four unions with collective-bargaining rights agreed to contracts with cuts to help the city solve a $37.7 million deficit in year starting July 1. Leaders of the Phoenix Law Enforcement Association argued that they should be spared a compensation reduction given the dangerous nature of their jobs and a hiring freeze that has strained the force. An independent fact finder had recommended that the union not take any more cuts and that it should instead receive a 3.6 percent pay raise in the second year of the new contract.