The Los Angeles Police Protective League (LAPPL), the union representing nearly 9,000 rank-and-file officers in the Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD), has filed a breach-of-contract lawsuit against the city, alleging that pay raises approved by the City Council in August have yet to materialize.
The union claims that its members are owed over three months’ worth of raises plus interest, and uncertainty surrounds when the back pay will be distributed.
The four-year package of raises and benefits, approved by the council three months ago, is expected to cost the city approximately $1 billion in salary expenses over the agreement’s lifespan.
The raises — ranging from 4% to 6% percent of officers’ salaries — and other financial incentives, retroactive to July 16, were eagerly anticipated by LAPD officers.
Tom Saggau, a spokesperson for the Police Protective League, expressed his disappointment in the situation..
“We can’t help but think there’s some level of incompetence somewhere. It ought to be found and fixed before the rest of the city’s workers suffer the way we are suffering now,” Saggau told the L.A. Times.
Union leaders are now demanding that the city pay interest on the back pay owed between July 16 and October 21.
Officials have attributed the delays to the city’s ongoing transition to a new payroll system called Workday.
“The Controller is dragging his feet on paying our members, and it’s either incompetence, a lemon of a new payroll system he is in charge of, or disdain for police officers,” said LAPPL Vice President Jerretta Sandoz.
In response, City Controller Kenneth Mejia and City Administrative Officer Matt Szabo, both named as defendants in the lawsuit, have reportedly shifted blame onto each other for the payroll system issues.
Mejia’s office handles payroll, while Szabo oversees the budget.
Rick Cole, the chief deputy controller, defended the city’s actions.
“We have neither failed nor refused to carry out the terms of the new police contract,” Cole said, declaring that the city is diligently calculating individual back pay for each of the LAPD’s approximately 8,800 sworn officers.
City Councilmember Tim McOsker, who heads the council’s personnel committee, expressed concern in a letter to Szabo and Mejia: “I believe it is of the utmost importance that all of our city employees be paid accurately and on time.” He has requested an explanation at the committee’s next meeting.
Szabo, meanwhile, defended the city’s approach, acknowledging a lag time between contract negotiation and the actual receipt of back pay. He attributed the delay to the complexity of implementing changes in both the old and new payroll systems.
“We’d rather be deliberate, than fast and wrong,” Szabo said.
As the legal battle unfolds, LAPD officers remain frustrated, with the union demanding prompt resolution to ensure officers receive the compensation they are owed.