DC Police and City Declare Impasse in Contract Talks

Cops and city labor officials agreed Monday afternoon that they had hit a wall.

By: Harry Jaffe

After trying to negotiate a new contract for five years, the Fraternal Order of Police and the city declared an impasse in a filing with the Public Employees Relations Board (PERB) Monday.

“The inability to move forward on the process,” the union said to members, “given the [more than] five years of delays, is extremely frustrating and disappointing.”

Neither cops nor firefighters have received raises in years, because the city and the unions have not agreed on wages, benefits, and work rules. Spokespeople for the mayor and city administrator Allen Lew, whose office oversees negotiations, have signaled that the two sides were close.

The union has been saying for years the city has not been negotiating in good faith, and talks were headed for impasse. In 2008 the union asked PERB to step in and mediate because it said the city was not negotiating in good faith. PERB sent the two sides back to the table, but with today’s declaration of impasse, PERB will be forced to mediate.

The city council is likely to step in for the first time, as well. Incoming judiciary committee chair Tommy Wells has said the lack of a contract between the cops and the city is a major threat to public safety. Ward 2 council member Jack Evans has also said he wants more cops on the street and better wages for the police.

Cops have not had a raise in nearly six years. In its letter to the rank and file, the union noted “three bright spots” in the process: Wells and Evans are vowing to shine a light on the process, the city’s finances are in good shape, and details of the talks could become public after the impasse becomes official. Union leaders have been saying for years that the city has been lying and stiffing them, and they believe the facts will absolve them of blame in the collapse of talks.

Spokespeople for the mayor could not comment.