The Town of Marana and its police officers association should "set aside differences and negotiate in good faith," the president of the Arizona Conference of Police and Sheriffs has told the town council and management.
Larry Lopez made his remarks at the June 22 council meeting, a week after the town council amended and implemented a two-year "memorandum of understanding" with the Marana Police Officers Association regarding police officer wages, benefits and working conditions.
Negotiations leading to the MOU amendment became contentious, with the MPOA twice declaring "impasse" and asking the town to grant what it termed non-economic benefits to officers. In the end, officers are working without wage increases, have had their uniform allowances reduced by half, and are restricted in their ability to take home police vehicles.
When Marana and the officers' association began discussions, "members of the MPOA understood the financial state of the town was dire, and things were going to change," Lopez said. "They accepted that their take-home vehicles and half their uniform allowance were going away." They did not ask for wage increases.
MPOA wanted a change in grievance review practices, "bump rights" on extra duty and vacation opportunities for senior officers, and the inclusion of nine non-sworn police department employees into the current pay-step structure. Those requests were not granted.
AZCOPS, which has 95 affiliates and more than 8,000 public safety employees, was criticized by Councilwoman Roxanne Ziegler for not helping the Marana officers' association in its negotiations with the town. Lopez said the town's "meet and confer" ordinance does not allow "outside entities to negotiate on the behalf of the MPOA. If I could be in there, I would."
Officers with the MPOA are "part of this community … and should be treated with the respect they deserve, rather than every meeting being met with an act of contention," Lopez said. "The MPOA are dedicated employees who wish to do what best by their membership and the town. This town has potential to be great, work together to make it so."