We urge Portland City Commissioners to vote no on police labor agreement

Sent by the Mental Health Association of Portland to all City of Portland commissioners and chiefs of staff on September 28, 2016.

This letter is in reference to proposed labor agreement between City of Portland and the Portland Police Association, through January 2020. But not including an agreement on body-worn cameras (PDF).


We write today at the urging of our fellow social justice advocates asking you to not approve the proposed labor agreement between the City and the Portland Police Association.

We appreciate Mayor Hales’ zeal to eliminate the 48-hour rule, but there is so much more to do, so the time is not ripe to pursue or make an agreement.

We appreciate a proposed increase in pay for officers. We want positions at the PPB to be both attractive and comfortable for recruits and experienced officers. But approving this increase now creates an unexpected out-of-cycle windfall, something like a payoff to achieve a “legacy” vote for a mayor who has been ineffective to date as police commissioner.

There are many additional and important items to negotiate. For example Article 21 of the agreement still contains a significant flaw which injured – perhaps crippled – our past three mayor / police commissioners.

The police commissioner should be able to terminate an officer for cause; not only for just cause.

The difference of one word is complex and controversial, but determines whether the agreement suits the interest of the people or submits to unreasonable standards and delay. We should not be bound by rules which injure the mayor, injure the community, and perhaps threaten our civility. We’re not negotiating life and death here – just whether we want someone to continue to work for us or not.

We appreciate labor interests: termination for cause should be reserved for dire circumstance – but that power must be in the hands of the people through their elected representatives. Our mayor should have the power to decide who works for our city, and who does not.

It’s premature to negotiate this agreement, and premature to approve of it.

We ask you to not approve the proposed labor agreement between the City and the Portland Police Association.

On behalf of the Mental Health Association of Portland