FREMONT -- Police have begrudgingly agreed to terms on a two-year contract that will cut salaries for current officers and reduce pension benefits and retiree medical benefits for future ones.
Additionally, the city's fire union has agreed to a tentative deal that includes similar concessions, although terms of that agreement aren't being released until after union leaders brief the rank and file.
The agreement with police, which the City Council approved Tuesday, is expected to save Fremont nearly $1.6 million this year. City leaders, who had set out to reduce costs by $5.2 million, continue to negotiate with nonsworn labor unions, as well as looking at streamlining measures.
If all city unions accept concessions similar to what the police gave up, it would save the city about $3.5 million this year, meaning the city still would have to trim another $1.7 million from its budget, officials said.
Police officers ratified the contract last week, but more than a dozen showed up to Tuesday's meeting to let the council know they weren't happy with the deal.
"The mayor and City Council want residents to believe that public safety is their priority, but their actions don't back that up," union President Greg Pipp wrote in a prepared statement. "You don't say 'public safety is a priority' and then vote to drastically cut officers' pay."
Mayor Bob Wasserman said the council had no choice but to demand the concession given its soaring pension costs, but he praised the officers for compromising.
"They saw the problem, and they took a very hard pill," he said. "I respect that, and I'm proud of them."
The police contract will cut officers' pay by 4.25 percent across the board. New hires still can receive pensions worth up to 90 percent of their salary, but they will have to work until 55 to qualify for the top pension benefits rather than 50 for current officers.
Additionally, pensions for new hires will be calculated based their three highest-paid years, whereas pensions for current employees will continue to be based on their highest paid 12-month period.
Retiree medical benefits for new hires will be capped at $500 a month and accrue at a lower rate than for current employees.
The deal also reduces shifts from 11 to 10 hours and changes work schedules, which the city says will help it reduce overtime costs by $500,000.
Pipp said the new schedule will force police to work more days, which will mean more lunches and briefings when they're not on patrol.
"We're doing what we have to do, and we understand that," Pipp said. "But we're not happy. That's for sure."
Fremont is one of several Bay Area cities this year to win concessions from its police union.
Officers in San Jose, which had a much larger deficit than Fremont, agreed to 10 percent pay cuts. In Oakland, officers agreed to start paying 9 percent of their salary toward their pensions, which Fremont officers already had been doing.
Contact Matthew Artz at 510-353-7002. For more Fremont news, go to IBAbuzz.com/tricitybeat.
by the numbers
Amount in millions the city expects to save this year from the police contract
Amount the city estimates can be saved by changing officers shifts
to officers' salaries