Newark will fire 167 police officers effective Nov. 30 after their union rejected a bid by New Jersey’s largest city to avoid the cuts, Mayor Cory Booker said.
“Every city employee is making profound sacrifices, and the only group that has made no concessions is the Fraternal Order of Police,” the mayor said today in a statement, referring to the union. He said the offer made by the city hadn’t been presented to the group’s members by its leaders.
The union local’s executive board voted unanimously yesterday to reject the proposals from Julien Neals, Newark’s acting business administrator, the organization said today in a statement. The group represents the city’s 1,279-member force. It had offered reductions in stress pay, clothing allowances and raises, according to the city.
The city proposed reducing overtime, 10 days of deferred pay and a giveback of five days’ pay, Booker said. The city was trying to save about $9.5 million from police costs and prevent the dismissals, according to Booker’s statement.
“Other communities across the state and nation have called upon their police unions to share the pain of this economy through even more significant concessions,” Booker said. In Newark, the union leadership “has failed its membership and the citizens,” Booker said.
$83 Million Deficit
The mayor is trying to reduce an $83 million deficit in the city’s $605 million spending plan for fiscal 2010, which ends next month. On Nov. 20, Booker asked the union to work out a solution with the city of 280,000 and proposed forgoing dismissals in exchange for five furlough days and a reduction in overtime that went beyond what the unions had offered. Booker gave the union until Nov. 30 to vote on the plan.
Booker had called the firings “entirely avoidable.” He had planned to start dismissing the 167 officers on or about Nov. 12. The action was delayed until yesterday by Superior Court Judge Kenneth Levy, who issued a 10-day stay to allow more time for talks.
“Since announcing police layoffs, Mayor Booker has attempted to mask his incompetency and dishonesty by vilifying the” union, the group said today in its statement. “He has attempted to divide this police department by pitting officer against officer.”
The mayor won approval from the state Civil Service Commission on Sept. 23 to fire 860 city workers, including the police officers, and to demote 123.
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