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Police union says it wants to resume S.L. contract talks

The Salt Lake Police Association board of directors was expected to send a letter to the city by noon Thursday expressing its desire to return to the negotiating table.

But who will be included in those negotiations remains to be seen.

At a Wednesday press conference, police association president David Greer insisted he was not out of the negotiations, despite an earlier ultimatum from Mayor Rocky Anderson that the city would not negotiate directly with Greer.

Greer said his signature would not appear on the letter being sent to the city. Meanwhile, the mayor's office was awaiting the letter to decide its next move.

"The city's position is that it won't negotiate directly with Mr. Greer," mayoral spokesman Joshua Ewing reaffirmed Thursday morning.

But at a Wednesday press conference — the first time Greer or anyone from the police association has spoken publicly since contract negotiations with the city broke down March 16 — Greer insisted he'd have a hand in the bargaining process.

"He can no more demand that I not be part of it than I can demand that he resign as mayor," Greer said.

If the two sides can come together, they'll have until April 20 to come to an agreement. If that deadline passes without a contract, Anderson has the authority to propose his own compensation plan to the City Council May 1 for approval.

Ever since contract negotiations broke down, Anderson has labeled Greer as a bully, saying the police association president threatened to strike during the 2002 Winter Games.

"I never made the threats as alleged by the mayor," Greer said Wednesday. "When we feel that we are not being heard, we take our information to the people with informational picketing."

Greer's first public statements came after a two-hour police association meeting in which members unanimously approved the letter being sent to the city.

Rank-and-file police officers also reaffirmed their support for Greer as their association president and leader of the contract negotiation team. Earlier this week, Anderson said he'd spoken with some officers who believed Greer was going over the top in his negotiating tactics.

"I think he's doing a great job," one officer said after Wednesday's meeting. "I think he knows the issues and he's got his numbers correct."

The recent chasm between the city and police association has centered around differing statistics.

In previous contract negotiations over the past eight years, the city has used pay scale comparisons with cities of similar size around the United States to set officers' salaries. This time, however, Anderson and his negotiating team are comparing Salt Lake's police pay with local agencies around the state.

The Citizen's Compensation Committee, made up of seven people appointed by the mayor and approved by the City Council, decided this year it didn't make sense for Salt Lake City to compare its police wages to national markets, Ewing said. Five of the seven committee members were on the committee before Anderson became mayor, according to Ewing.

The police association is asking for a 6 percent pay raise each year for the next two years, while the city is offering a 2.5 percent pay increase during the first two years and a 2 percent increase for the third year.

At a Wednesday afternoon press conference held just before the police association met, Anderson reiterated his desire for equal and fair pay for the city's police officers.

He also stood firm in his refusal to negotiate again with Greer, who stood behind the corps of reporters during Anderson's remarks.

"No one should have to put up with this rude, threatening conduct," Anderson said.


E-MAIL: djensen@desnews.com