If you drive around Bakersfield, it’s not hard to see how upset the Bakersfield Police Officers Association is with the city about recent contract negotiations.
Almost a dozen billboards have gone up stating some city managers got a 19% pay increase, but police officers have received nothing since 2007.
And the billboards are showcasing the frustration the union has with the city.
"We've gone six years without a contract and not having a salary increase and the police officers in this city are extremely frustrated with the city,” said Detective Todd Dickson, President of the Bakersfield Police Officers Association.
But the city says the signs are not giving the whole message.
They are misleading, they don't give the full picture which is the reason why those employees have not received those cost of living increases,” said Assistant City Manager Steven Teglia.
After negotiations broke down in 2007 and the economy crashed, the BPOA hasn’t had a contract with the city.
The two sides resumed talks earlier this year.
The BPOA is demanding a 12% salary increase going forward and retroactive pay.
"The men and women of the BPOA know they saved the city millions and millions of dollars over the last four years by forgoing these raises and by not getting them. Now it's time for the city to make it right," Dickson said.
The city has its own 6% offer on the table.
And considering the financial shape of other cities in California, city officials say the offer is fair.
"In most other jurisdictions, negotiations include give backs, status quo agreements with no cost of living adjustments," Teglia said.
But the BPOA is pointing out the pay difference between officers in Bakersfield and similar-sized communities.
For example, a Bakersfield officer with five years of experience makes about $5,100 a month.
In places like Fresno and Modesto, it’s closer to $6,100 per month.”
“When they can go somewhere else and get a thousand dollars more a month and the housing is similar, than you're going to lose those people,” Dickson said.
The BPOA says on average, their officers are paid about 30% less than those in similar areas.
But the city says many of those same places are also facing budget problems because of fiscal irresponsibility while Bakersfield’s budget is balanced.
Some of those cities are in bankruptcies, some are facing serious deficits,” Teglia said.
Now if the two sides can’t reach an agreement, the two groups will come to an impasse and a mediator will have to decide what a fair contract would be.
It’s unknown how close that possibility is, but the BPOA says it is possible it could happen before the end of the year.