Police Guild Demands Mediation With City Over Contract

By Jonah Spangenthal-Lee March 11, 2011

The Seattle Police Officers Guild has filed a demand for mediation over contract negotiations with the city, saying representatives of Mayor Mike McGinn canceled the last three scheduled negotiation meetings.

Guild President Rich O'Neill McGinn's comments that the union should come to the table surprised him, given that the city hasn't met for a formal contract negotiation since October.

Relations have been tense between the union and McGinn's office; and the union recently has been criticized for comments in its newspaper regarding Seattle's Race and Social Justice Initiative.

The Department of Justice "may force changes," McGinn said in his state of the city address, referring to a federal investigation of Seattle police. "Some of those changes will force the union to come to the table and work around solutions that will help us hold officers accountable.

"Frankly," McGinn continued, "statements from the union suggest they are in a state of denial about the nature and severity of this problem. They need to face facts. The union has a responsibility to step up and be part of the solution."

O'Neill suggests the union is being portrayed unfairly.

"What table is he talking about," O'Neill asked. "We're willing to talk."

The guild filed its demand for mediation last week with the Public Employment Relations Commission, O'Neill said Thursday. Either side can file the mediation demand after no meeting is held for 60 days.

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