FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact: Daryl Turner
In Response to Commission Saltzman’s Proposed Resolution
Portland, ORE – January 12, 2012 —
The resolution by Commissioner Saltzman to rescind the 1% health and fitness premium that the Portland Police Association negotiated with the City of Portland is just another example of a city official violating the labor agreement reached through the collective bargaining process. A brief history lesson on the physical fitness test is in order. The Portland Police Association and the City of Portland agreed after long, difficult labor negotiations to an obstacle course based physical fitness test that would be administered on duty, in part, so that officers were insured against injuries sustained while taking the test. The City reneged on that deal. So, the parties ended up back at the negotiating table. The City brought forward the idea of biometrics testing because of its lower administrative costs and its long-term wellness benefits to employees.
Chief Mike Reese and Yvonne Deckard, Portland’s Human Resource Manager, both see the benefits of Biometric screening as an aid to reducing health care costs, sick time usage, and in the line of duty injuries that plague employees. We agreed and entered into a legally binding contract that awards officers a 1% premium if officers take and pass the test annually. Biometric screening helps to establish baseline numbers to detect serious medical conditions such as obesity, hypertension, heart disease, and diabetes. Again, this paves the way for a long-term wellness plan that will save the City on health care costs, sick time use, and on-the-job injuries. It will also improve the health of our members. This is an excellent plan that benefits the City and its police officers alike. This plan is also a legally binding commitment entered into by the City with full support of Chief Reese and the Police Bureau and Ms. Deckard and the Bureau of Human Resources.
Once again, the City wants to renege on its deal. Commissioner Saltzman’s knee jerk reaction to the misinformation from a recent article in The Oregonian is symptomatic of the disconnect between the Portland Police Association and Commissioner Saltzman. Commissioner Saltzman has displayed an amazing lack of restraint in publicly pronouncing his desire that the City violate a contract with the PPA. His displaced anger is also surprising. If he feels that high ranking City officials deceived him about this fitness premium, he should take it up with those officials. Instead, he wants to penalize the hard working police officers who have negotiated for a legally binding benefit. That is symptomatic of the failing labor relations in this City and across the country–when all else fails, penalize the worker. That is simply unacceptable. Commissioner Saltzman’s resolution to breach a legally binding agreement is irresponsible. He should stop poisoning the labor relations in this City.
The Portland Police Association bargained in good faith and has adhered to the contract with integrity and that’s what we expect the City of Portland to do.