Saltzman upset council's intent was ignored

The City Council postponed voting on whether Portland police officers should have to go through a physical examination to receive a health and fitness premium on Wednesday.

City Commissioner Dan Saltzman had asked the council to adopt a resolution requiring a physical exam after the city paid officers $739 each for having their blood tested, their blood pressure tested and their height and weight recorded.

Saltzman says the pay was intended to be reimbursement for taking a more more complete exam, including a series of physical agility and endurance tests to determine the fitness of each officer.

The provision is included in the most recent contract between the city and the Portland Police Association, which represents rank-and-file officers.

• Click here to read the Portland Police Association's response to Commissioner Saltzman's proposal.

But Saltzman agreed to postpone the vote for two weeks after the City Attorneys Office said the council could not legally change the contract and Commissioner Randy Leonard, a former union leader, promised to bring a solution back in two weeks,

"I don't understand how the council could approve something in black and white and then have it ignored," Saltzman said at the end of the hearing.

The Portland Police Association had previously accused Saltzman of trying to break a legally binding contract provision, however.

'He should stop trying to poison labor relations in this city,' the association said in a Jan. 12 statement.

Less-demanding test

According to Saltzman, the council intended the officers to take an obstacle-based test that would judge their physical fitness. They were to receive a premium of one percent of the top pay tier - $739 - to take the test.

The Portland Police Association insists that the test should be taken while officers are on duty so the city would be liable if they are injured while taking it. The city balked at this requirement, however. Instead, it agreed to pay the premium to take the less-demanding, biometric test.

This year the city paid $577,000 to the 91 percent of association members who took the biometric test.

Saltzman says that is unacceptable. His resolution calls for the city to rescind the payment until officers take the physical test.

The association says that would violate the contract, however.

'The resolution by Commissioner Saltzman to rescind the 1 percent health and fitness premium that the Portland Police Association negotiated with the city is just another example of a city official violating the labor agreement reached through the collective bargaining agreement,' association officials said in the Jan. 12 statement.

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