In his strongest words to date on the subject, Mayor Kevin Johnson said today that city cops must discuss contributing to their pensions in order to save the jobs of dozens of officers being laid off this week.
There is little to no chance that such an agreement could be solidified before the final day of the fiscal year on Thursday, when police layoffs go into effect. Cops have already begun handing in their badges and 42 officers are slated to lose their jobs, part of a city budget plan to fill a $39 million deficit.
But the mayor said that he and other members of the City Council are "desperately reaching out" to the police union and was hopeful that discussions would continue into the summer.
Johnson said that there must be "meaningful discussions regarding pension reform" and that it was "unrealistic to think there won't be real discussions about pension reform."
So far, the police union has not agreed to discuss concessions with city management. The police union contract expires in 2013.
"We do not want the public to be caught up in a stalemate," the mayor said.
Police officers and firefighters do not pay into their pensions; if they paid the same as most other city workers - 4 percent of their salaries - it would save the city more than $4 million a year, budget officials said.
If the police union agreed to pay into their retirement plans, Johnson said he was hopeful the City Council would agree to match that concession with one-time funding.
Several council members, however, have said they are reluctant to touch the city's economic reserve fund.