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Tacoma: city keeps mum on police concessions to avert layoffs

Post by Lewis Kamb / The News Tribune on Jan. 17, 2012 at 9:56 pm | No Comments »
January 17, 2012 10:29 pm

A day after Tacoma’s police union voted to approve a package of concessions to avoid at least 56 police employees from potentially receiving pink slips, the city’s top labor negotiator declined to provide details about what exactly those concessions are.

Tacoma labor relations manager John Dryer said Tuesday evening the city will wait to publicly reveal details of the police concessions until after Tacoma’s fire union takes a similar vote, now scheduled for January 26 and 27.

The reason for keeping mum? Part strategy and part professionalism, Dryer said.

The fire union’s membership, which will vote on a package of concessions similar to those approved by the police union, deserve an opportunity to consider the proposal “before they read about it in the newspaper,” Dryer said.

He added the city has yet to formally approve any deal, so technically, negotiations remain open.

“We haven’t signed anything at this point,” he said.

Dryer and city spokesman Rob McNair-Huff also noted Tuesday the police and fire concession proposals are merely the first step in ongoing mitigation efforts seeking to avert public safety layoffs.

The concessions would address only layoffs proposed for some 100 police and fire employees as part of a first round of proposed budget cuts. The phased cuts were meant to close about $22 million of a projected $31 million shortfall, giving city budget officials more time to determine if their forecast was correct and if more cuts were needed.

Now, after more data has come in and an outside review has estimated the shortfall is even bigger than what the city originally projected, a second round of proposed layoffs — and likely more labor negotiations — is becoming increasingly likely, they said.

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