Boynton Beach Police to Protest, Ask for City Manager's Resignation
More than 50 Boynton Beach Police officers are protesting outside of City Hall before Tuesday afternoon's commission meeting, demanding that City Manager Lori LaVerriere resign.
The officers are protesting what they say are overdue raises. Negotiations for those raises have been a source of conflict for several months.
The officers' contracts expired back in September, and the union and the city have not been able to strike a new deal.
There had been an initial agreement on a 3 percent raise, but new conflicts arose on how those raises would be distributed.
The protest, which will kick off at 4:15 p.m. and run until the the City Commission meeting begins at 6:30, was organized by the Palm Beach County Police Benevolent Association.
John Kazanjian, president of the Palm Beach County Police Benevolent Association, says that the Boynton Beach Police Department is frustrated over the stalled negotiations and claims that morale is at an all-time low.
During their protest, the officers are calling for LaVerriere's resignation, as she's the one behind the negotiations, according to Kazanjian.
At the core of their frustration is the way the city wants to disperse the 3 percent raises agreed upon in December.
"We've offered a minimum of 6 percent in raises over the next two years," LaVerriere told the Palm Beach Post. "Three percent this year and 3 to 4 next year. We've put that on the table."
But the union scoffed at that, saying it doesn't want everyone getting the same amount.
"That's why the contract wasn't ratified," Kazanjian said, per the Post. "We didn't want a new person making the same amount of money as them. [The city] disagreed. They said 'No. Take it or leave it.' "
LaVerriere, who has been city manager since December 2012, says picketing and protesting is no way to push things forward.
Along with signs and T-shirts that say "Let us go to PBSO," officers will reportedly trot out a billboard featuring caricatures of LaVerriere, Boynton Beach Police Chief Jeffrey Katz, and City Attorney James Cherof.
Katz himself tweeted out a picture of the billboard with his own comments:
For her part, LaVerriere calls the protest disappointing.
"I'm disappointed that the [Police Benevolent Association] is resorting to picketing rather than sitting down at the negotiating table to conduct meaningful negotiations, she told the Sun Sentinel. "I'm confident we will eventually get there."