Atwater police union votes to take pay cut

FRESNO, Calif.

Members voted Thursday night to take a more than twenty percent pay cut.

The acting city manager tells Action News the police department pay cut will save about a half million dollars.

He says that money, and concessions he's hoping to get from another union, could help balance the budget. But several employees are still facing lay-offs.

The Atwater Police Officers Association made a difficult decision Thursday night. Its members voted nearly unanimously to take a 22 percent pay cut to help the city with a more than three million dollar deficit. Just last week the council declared a fiscal emergency.

"There's loyal members of this department who have worked here for years. They don't want to see the pd or the city go bankrupt. It's the last thing they want. So we just felt we had to do our part as well," Anthony Cardoza said.

The association made that concession even though its contract was good through 20-14. The union president says it's not clear yet how long the pay cut will last, but it will be painful for the employees and their families.

"We're doing what we can at this point to help the city out, but it's going to be a burden for awhile," Cardoza said.

Longtime resident Lisa Cedillo says she appreciates that sacrifice.

"It's a sad thing, but it just shows how much they care about our city," Atwater resident Lisa Cedillo said.

Police Chief and Acting City Manager Frank Pietro says he's also extremely grateful for the association's vote. He tells Action News it will save Atwater about a half million dollars.

"It's just been overwhelming to me that they would actually do that for the city," Pietro said.

Pietro says he's still working to get more concessions from the city's other union, which agreed to furlough days last year. At the same time, he's rescinding many of the 38 layoff notices sent out last week and has now reduced that number to nine.

"I think we'll be able to make budget, and I think we'll be able to come up with about 3 million dollars that we're short in the budget this year so that's what we're hoping for," Pietro said.

Pietro will present his budget plan to the city council during a meeting on October 22.

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