Members of the Turlock police union, Turlock Associated Police Officers (TAPO), recently received a pay increase, despite having not signed a contract with the City of Turlock.
The pay increase, which was reportedly requested and approved by Turlock City Manager Roy Wasden, came as a surprise to the Turlock police officers.
“I can tell you that we were unaware that there were plans made by administration to…put more money in our check then we had anticipated,” said TAPO President Sgt. Russell Holeman.
Several other employment unions also received pay increases from the City of Turlock, however it is unknown which, if any, have already signed their contracts.
Members of TAPO will have an opportunity to vote whether to approved the contract that is currently before the union today.
Wasden is out of the office all week and has been unable to comment on the pay raise and why he requested and approved it. Mike Pitcock, Director of Development Services and City Engineer for the City of Turlock, is the acting City Manager until Wasden returns, but said he was not involved in the labor negotiations and does not know the specifics.
Although Wasden has been unavailable to answer questions about the raise, Holeman said he has spoken to Wasden about the surprise pay raise.
“I spoke to Mr. Wasden about this and it is his belief that the contract will pass,” said Holeman. “And he did not want the employees to wait any longer for the pay they would eventually get anyways.”
It is unknown if the members of TAPO would be required to repay the raise if the contract is not approved today.
Turlock police officers have not seen a wage increase in several years, which is why the raise on their recent checks came as a surprise to TAPO. Holeman, and the rest of TAPO, have long been fighting for better compensation and a more attractive benefits package to bring in qualified candidates to fill the short-staffed Turlock Police Department.
Some concerns have been raised about the wage increase, claiming that it is a ploy to sway votes and convince the members of TAPO to approve the contract with the City.
Wasden has recently been involved in a case where the City of Turlock sent out literature in the September utility bills that could urge Turlockers to vote “yes” on the half-cent road tax.
At the time of the mailing, which included one Measure A insert and one Measure B insert, Wasden said he approved the inserts as they were “educational and detailed.” Wasden later told Fox40 News that he wish he had scrutinized the inserts more.
Wasden has not been able to comment on whether or not the pay raise could sway the TAPO vote, as he is out of the office for the week.
Holeman is not at liberty of speaking of the specifics of the contract at this time, per ground rules set at the beginning of negotiations.
Mayor John Lazar also could not comment on the raise, citing that labor negotiations are confidential, pursuant to the Brown Act.
If the members in attendance of today’s meeting do not approve the contract with a majority vote, the union will look to continue negotiations with Wasden and the City.
“We’ll end up going back to the table with the City and hopefully the membership will tell us why they voted against the contract, so we can have that information to present to the City and explain to them what the members’ desires were, what they did or did not like about the contract, and we’ll hopefully continue with negotiations with the City and come to a contract that we all agree upon,” said Holeman.