From: Oakland Tribune
An Alameda County Superior Court judge Friday blocked the city of Oakland from removing the police department’s three deputy chiefs from the Oakland Police Officers Association.
Judge Frank Roesch ordered city officials to meet with union representatives to discuss a process for establishing a separate bargaining unit and then to hash out the impact of such a move.
The ruling means that negotiations over a new contract will likely go forward with the deputy chiefs helping the city craft a deal with their union, despite city concerns that such an arrangement will undermine public confidence in the pact.
Jonathan Holtzman, an attorney for the city, said he is disappointed with the ruling but the city will continue pursuing the issue and is considering an appeal.
Roesch also ruled the situation has not yet reached an impasse, and left open the question of whether it should be resolved through a lengthy arbitration process, as the union asked the court.
Rockne Lucia, an attorney for the politically powerful police association, said the union is looking forward to meeting and conferring with the city on the issues.
Police Chief Wayne Tucker said the judge’s ruling is a “setback” for the department.
City officials have said it makes no sense for the deputy chiefs, as members of the police union, to be part of a city bargaining team hammering out a new deal for officers. However, union officials contend there is no conflict of interest, real or perceived, and have accused city officials of attempting to gain a tactical advantage in the tense negotiations.
Lucia told Roesch in a hearing Thursday the conflict over the deputy chiefs has been an “impediment” to negotiations.
Although the union’s contract expired two months ago, its terms and conditions remain in effect. That deal has been harshly criticized for being overly generous to officers and giving the union too much sway over assignments and shift schedules.