Support for wages, concerns over reforms as Seattle City Council set for police contract vote — UPDATE: Approved

UPDATE 4:45 PM: In an 8-1 vote, the Seattle City Council approved ratification Tuesday afternoon.

Committee chair Lorena González said that there is still much to be done to continue reforms at SPD but that she was “proud” to approve the collective bargaining agreement.

She also dismissed criticism that the contract would “roll back” reforms, listing a dozen elements from the new deal that she say represent progress in social justice issues at the department.

Paramount in the deal will be a strong Office of Inspector General and wiping out of the controversial Disciplinary Review Board. González said the inspector’s office will be able to be present at Office of Professional Accountability proceedings and will have access to all OPA files.

“Today, is one of those days where I find myself in the unfortunate position of agreeing with some of the observations made by my friends at the (Community Police Commission) while disagreeing as to others and, fundamentally, disagreeing as to (1) the impact of this contract on our ongoing police reform efforts and (2) the appropriate next step to take to continue making progress on police reform,” González said in a statement issued following the vote. You can read the full statement and the list of 12 accountability reforms from the contract here.

U.S. District Judge James Robart, who is overseeing the Department of Justice consent decree process, will also review the contract to ensure compliance.

The vote followed a more than two hour session of public comment and statements from several council members. Community members including Nikkita Oliver and the Rev. Harriet Waldman spoke to say they supported higher wages for police but could not support the contract. “Voting for this contract will dismantle the work we have been doing for years,” Oliver said. The city has “failed in these negotiations,” Walden said.

A large contingent of community members representing the International District was also on hand to show support for SPD and the new contract.

Original report:  The Seattle City Council will vote Tuesday afternoon on a long-awaited, hugely debated six-year deal with the Seattle Police union that would bring much needed wage increases but would also roll back progress on much needed reforms, critics say.

District 3’s Kshama Sawant representing Capitol Hill, the Central District, and surrounding neighborhoods said Tuesday she will continue to oppose the deal. Seven of the nine council members must approve the contract for ratification.

“As a rank-and-file union member myself, I support the wage improvements that are contained in the tentative collective bargaining agreement between the City and [the Seattle Police Officers Guild],” Sawant said in a statement on the pending vote. “I think it is unfortunate that other public service workers, such as educators and EMTs, have not gotten such significant wage increases in this increasingly unaffordable city.”

“However, along with a growing number of community members, I am deeply troubled by the rollback of police accountability in this contract,” she writes. “In May 2017, the City Council unanimously adopted urgently needed police accountability legislation. While this ordinance was an important step forward, it did not go nearly far enough. And now, instead of the legislation being fully incorporated into the collective bargaining agreement as promised, key accountability measures are proposed to be significantly weakened.”

The Seattle King County NAACP also opposes the deal.

Seattle’s Community Police Commission has called for a compromise position that would see the council approving the contract “giving the officers the fair pay they deserve” while moving to “immediately reopen negotiations on the limited matters in the proposed contract that touch on the accountability system.”

The commission and critics of the proposed deal say the contract agreement gives up many of the reforms won in the landmark Police Accountability Legislation passed by the city council last year.

The contract has been a major focus for Mayor Jenny Durkan. “One of my priorities was negotiating a fair contract for Seattle police officers, who have been working without a contract since 2014,” Durkan said last month. “Even as homes, groceries and gas has become more expensive in our city, our officers continued to keep our residents, neighborhoods and businesses safe.”

“At the same time, they have served as a model nationwide by bringing SPD into full and effective compliance with the federal consent decree,” Durkan said.

In a letter to Council President Bruce Harrell and committee chair Lorena González, SPD Chief Carmen Best asked for support in approving the long-awaited deal.

“As Chief of the Seattle Police Department, with or without a new labor agreement, I guarantee we will continue to exceed the requirements of the Consent Decree,” she writes. “What I cannot guarantee is what this department will look like without a new agreement. In the face of historically low unemployment, skyrocketing costs of living, competition from local jurisdictions, and the perception by many officers that their work is neither acknowledged or respected, our already-constrained ability to hire the best and the brightest will only become more difficult.”

If ratified, the contract will be effective through the end of 2020 as it is back-dated to cover the four years officers have been without a contract.

The vote is scheduled to take place during Tuesday’s meeting of the full Seattle City Council beginning with public comment at 2 PM.

The complete contract document is embedded below.


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10 thoughts on “Support for wages, concerns over reforms as Seattle City Council set for police contract vote — UPDATE: Approved

  1. On the plus side, if it is difficult to hire enough police officers, there will be less violent police incidents and our minority residents will be safer from harassment. So maybe rejecting it is the right choice.

    • Taken to its logical conclusion, your comment is basically that we should get rid of all the police so there are no incidents with them, positive or negative. Is that what you mean?

    • You know who is most often victim of the depredations of those “harassed” criminals? Minority residents. Did you ever wonder why it’s always the same faces making the same claims about how oppressive the police are? Let me tell you: they see money in it.

  2. Police staffing at below minimums…arsonists on the loose…campers destroying and crapping everywhere….hours and hours to get a response…the best leaving. It’s no “maybe” they should Yes support labor unions, the police and the city and ratify it.

    Also, since they’ve worked without a contract for 4 years, the 6 year contract is effectively for 2 year. They don’t get out of paying the 4 years back. We are getting to a point where the city will have to have 10 years back pay ready to go out of the budget if it is pushed. If ratified, Then we go round the merry go round again 2 years from now. With an entirely new city council hopefully. Vote them all out. ALL. OUT.

    • Your description makes Seattle sound like a dystopian nightmare…but then I walked outside and looked around, easily refuting your sensationalist shitpost.

      Get a life.

  3. “As a rank and file union member myself…”

    Kshama seems to think that a union membership that was required for her to get a part-time teaching instructor job she held for what? a year?, makes her the new Samuel Gompers.

  4. LOL at Sawant as the lone hold out vote on this. She is such a joke and as others have stated a real embarrassment.

    Hilarious to me that she continues to lose on every single issue that she rallies her clown fanbase around but none of them seem to notice her failed “leadership”.

  5. Eight boot-lickers passed on the public’s last chance for years to wring some significant accountability out of an out-of-control police department. At best, their actions can be seen as a cowardly passing-of-buck to Judge Robart. Admittedly, SPOG are scary, and Seattle’s mini-MAGA crew have council on the ropes, so I have some sympathy, though this is still a huge disappointment.

    Our Community Police Commission, ever the centrists when it’s the police vs. the public, stuck their necks out a bit, documented in great detail the problems with this contract, and publicized all of it. Dozens of community organizations urged council to reject this and hold out for a contract that fixed those problems. Nearly every news outlet in town wrote about the call for council to put on the breaks. And SPOG effectively shifted most public attention to SPD salaries.

    Sawant voted her conscience, as usual, despite “not having the votes.” Bagshaw and Juarez were Bagshaw and Juarez, presumably interested in sucking up to Durkan and the greater Democratic establishment. I don’t remember them even speaking during the meeting yesterday. It’s unclear WTF was going on with Gonzalez, who’s sharp enough to understand the intricacies of the situation, who should know better, and whose speech bordered on dishonesty. Harrell didn’t even make sense. Johnson probably should understand the situation, and since he’s explicitly on his way out, had nothing to lose by siding with the people on this one, but laid right down. I don’t know enough about Mosqueda to say much about her role. Maybe her background with regular labor unions and/or political aspirations influenced her capitulation to the guild. Herbold’s and O’Brien’s votes were, by far, the most disappointing of the bunch. They surely knew better but went along with it anyway. It must have been an especially painful vote for those two.

    Well played, SPOG. Getting Durkan in there was key, and then you played the public like a fiddle.

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