PHOENIX -- Members of the Phoenix Law Enforcement Association, community leaders and two city council members are calling for a public vote on the recent decision to impose pay and benefit cuts on police officers.
In a narrow 5-4 vote, the city council decided this week to impose 2.5 percent cuts in police pay and benefits over the next two years.
This is the first time the council has ever imposed a contract on a union.
At a news conference Friday, Joe Clure, president of PLEA, called for a public vote on the matter, saying they are going to ask for it to be a ballot referendum or initiative. Clure says the vote, if approved, would not happen until March 2015.
A city spokesperson says a special vote next March would cost $1.1 million.
Community activist Jarrett Maupin says the council or mayor could act now and avoid a special vote.
“There’s time,” Maupin said. “’All the mayor and council have to do is decide to come back to the table and put their arms around this labor issue and come up with a compromise.”
In addition to Maupin, two city council members who voted against the cuts also expressed their support for PLEA.
“You’ve got officers working an incredible amount of work, an incredible amount of stress," Councilman Sal DiCiccio said, "and to be cutting them at a point where we are so short in police officers, I think is bad for morale. It’s bad for our police department and it’s bad for our citizenry."
An independent arbitrator recently decided that the Phoenix police officers should receive a pay raise. The council’s vote goes against the arbitrator’s decision.
Councilman Michael Nowakowski says it sets a bad precedent.
“We have a process and we need to respect that process,” Nowakowski says. “We need some political soul searching within the council. There’s a lack of leadership within the council.”
Phoenix OKs pay cuts for police, other employees