Organizational Sign on: Halt Seattle Police Union Contract Negotiations Until the Community Can Take a Seat at the Table
By signing onto this document, your organization endorses the following statement:
We demand that the City officially and publicly delay negotiations until we can agree upon an accountable and transparent process that centers the community.
It’s Time To #PullTheBrake on SPOG and SPMA Negotiations
The contracts with SPOG and SPMA expire at the end of the year. This means a new contract needs to be negotiated. In addition to defunding and divestment, negotiating a new police union CBA creates the opportunity to quickly change the course of public safety in our city, away from violence and unaccountability and toward a brighter future. The City has announced no plans to change their opaque, closed-door process. In effect, the City intends to send these contract negotiations down the same path it’s always been on: away from accountability and away from the community. It’s time we pulled the brake.
Mayor Durkan, Seattle City Council, and SPOG: We demand that the City officially and publicly delay negotiations until we can agree upon an accountable and transparent process that centers the community:
Appointing a committee of trusted community leaders, chosen by the community, to the Executive Labor Committee (in accordance with executive order 01-14);
Not one more incident of unaccountable officer misconduct and brutality can occur. We must create a contract that centers the community first. That can’t happen with the current negotiation process. That’s why we must delay the negotiations until the community can have a say.
We have called on the Mayor and Council to defund SPD and applaud the commitments recently made to do so, however more needs to be done. As they have made clear during the protests, SPD’s 1,400+ officers can continue to operate with impunity and disrespect. If the 2020 contract negotiations proceeds as usual, police unions will continue to write the rules in their favor.
No police officer who disrespects and brutalizes the community they serve should escape consequences Not one more.
We call on the City to pull the brake on the unaccountable and opaque police contract negotiation process until the Mayor appoints a committee of trusted community leaders, chosen by the community, to the Executive Labor Committee.
For over a decade, especially in the wake of the murders of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Terry Caver, Ryan Smith, Charleena Lyles, and countless others, the Seattle community has made it clear: the City must hold police officers accountable for their actions. Yet, time and time again, the City has created failed systems and passed ineffective legislation in the name of “police accountability.”
The Office Of Police Accountability (OPA), Community Police Commission (CPC) and Office of the Inspector General (OIG) all lack meaningful power to effectively hold officers accountable. What is the purpose of an accountability organization without the ability for accountability?
Accountability measures exist in Seattle’s 2017 accountability ordinance, but Seattle’s police unions will attempt to roll them back in the next contract: As of now, the contract sits above the law in the case that laws or ordinances conflict with the police union contract. What is the point of implementing laws if the police unions and the City will agree to contracts that overpower and supersede all other legislation?
How Did We Get Here? How CBA Bargaining Works Now
A Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) refers to the contract between the City and police unions. It stipulates working hours, wages, working conditions, overtime rules and much more. Seattle Police Department sworn officers join one of two organizations depending on their rank:
SPOG (Seattle Police Officers’ Guild), which represents officers and sergeants; and
SPMA (Seattle Police Management Association), which represents upper management such as lieutenants and captains.
There is no publicly-known schedule or process for negotiations, and it is difficult to determine who is actually involved. On the City’s side, the Labor Relations Policy Committee (LRPC), consisting of the Mayor, the City Budget Office Director, the Director of Seattle Department of Human Relations, and members of the City Council’s Select Committee on Labor are involved in planning the strategies for negotiations. The Negotiating Committee is a separate committee that actually does the negotiation, based on plans and strategies developed by the LRPC.
If it seems like it is hard to figure out who is actually involved and the degree of involvement, that’s because it is: the obfuscation and multitude of layers in the negotiation process prevents transparency and accountability.
Silence Is Violence; Closing Your Doors Is Silence
The community is eager to be involved. Community members and organizations that represent the community have made numerous attempts to petition for increased accountability protections; however, the community has never actually had a say.
In 2018, SPOG fought to weaken the accountability rules they were subject to as mandated by the 2012 federal Consent Decree. Seattle's Community Police Commission (CPC), Judge James Robart (the overseer of the Consent Decree) and dozens of other organizations—many of whom were directly involved in passing historic police accountability legislation—took a clear stance against the final contract.
Nonetheless, the Seattle City Council still approved the contract in an 8-1 vote. SPOG got their way and the city turned its back on the community once again. A year later, Judge Robart determined that the 2018 CBA weakened police accountability and ruled that the City of Seattle was no longer in compliance with the Consent Decree.
The community fought hard for legislation that SPOG tries to nullify whenever possible. If the community were included in all points of the contract negotiations, there would have been a strong voice to ensure this didn’t happen.
You can reach us at
. Visit our website at
. You can follow us on Instagram at @gpaseattle, on Facebook at @SGPA, and on Twitter at @SeattleGPA. Thank you for your support.
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