Police get expanded parental leave, pay more toward pensions in new contract

Long Beach police are set to get raises, but will also contribute more of their salaries to pension costs under a new contract the City Council will consider next week.

The three-year contract also includes new benefits such as expanded parental leave and bonuses for dive-team and SWAT members as the department continues to aggressively recruit new officers to fill vacancies from retirements and other attrition.

“This agreement, which includes pension reform, will allow us to continue to hire the best police recruits,” Mayor Robert Garcia said, “and I want to thank the POA leadership and our City negotiating team for their months of hard work.”

Members of the Long Beach Police Officers Association ratified the contract in August after a string of more than a dozen meetings between the two sides since May 2019.

The tentative agreement includes a 4 percent raise in the first year followed by a 3 percent raise at the start of the third year and another 2.5 percent raise six months later, the city said.

However, all officers represented by the union, about 875, will now have to contribute 12% of their paychecks to pension costs. Previously, officers hired before 2013—which was most of the department—only contributed 9% of their salaries to pension costs, according to the union.

The contract also includes some other cash benefits like a $2,000 bonus in the second year in lieu of a raise and extra compensation for officers with advanced training.

One major added benefit will be up to 160 hours of paid leave available for employees after having or adopting a child.

In the past, officers have often burned through sick time if they wanted to delay returning to work after having kids, according to the union.

“I believe this contract clearly reflects the strong commitment of our Mayor, City Council and City Management towards ensuring high-quality public safety for our entire community,” union president James Foster said.

Long Beach is also trying to strike contract deals with 10 other city unions, including fire department employees.

A critical part of those negotiations are the city’s roughly $1 billion in unfunded pension liabilities, which is down from $1.8 billion.

The city projects those liabilities will be eliminated in 30 years as new contracts are negotiated and employees are required to pay more toward their own retirements.

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Jeremiah Dobruck is the breaking news editor for the Long Beach Post. He began his journalism career in 2007 as an intern at Palos Verdes Peninsula News and has worked for The Forum Newsgroup in New York City, the Daily Pilot and the Press-Telegram. He lives in Torrance with his wife, Lindsey, and their two young children.