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With Bad Contract, L.A. Police Union Reaps What It Sowed During Mayor's Race

LAPD headquarters
LAPD headquarters

L.A. police officers are up in arms about their new union contract, which freezes wages for most officers for one year. The union rank-and-file rejected the deal last Friday, and on Tuesday union president Tyler Izen called the absence of a raise a "slap in the face."

It should come as no surprise that the L.A. Police Protective League is at odds with Mayor Eric Garcetti over its contract. After all, the union spent $1.5 million trying to elect Wendy Greuel.

What did they expect was going to happen?

The LAPPL was not alone among public sector unions in backing Greuel. Almost every significant bargaining unit backed her campaign. Most famous is the Department of Water and Power union, which pumped $4 million into defeating Garcetti.

That became the leading factor in Garcetti's victory. Once Garcetti was in office, the DWP union was forced to accept a contract which freezes wages for three years. Compared to DWP workers, the cops are getting off easy.

In truth, Garcetti is not singling out any of these labor groups for retribution. Instead, he's trying to hold the line on raises for all city workers in an effort to eliminate the structural deficit by 2018.

That would become much harder if he gave a raise to any one union. If, for instance, the cops got a 2 percent raise, the city's civilian workers would demand the same thing. So holding the line against one group helps hold the line against all of them.

But it's probably a lot easier for Garcetti to stand firm precisely because none of the major city unions supported his campaign. And it's hard to imagine that the contract would not have been sweeter under a Greuel administration. Politicians tend to remember who their friends are, and they vividly remember who spent $1.5 million of member dues trying to end their careers.

The lesson for city unions is that if you're going to go after someone, don't miss. Instead, the LAPPL dumped its money into forgettable TV spots like this one:


What makes the union's judgment even worse is that it spent most of its war chest — $935,000 — less than two weeks before the election. By then it was obvious that Greuel's campaign was faltering.

So what can they do to get back in Garcetti's good graces? Earlier this year, the union hired a lobbyist, Lisa Gritzner of Cerrell Associates, to try to repair its relationship.

Looks like she has more work to do.


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