AMID A NEW, unpredictable atmosphere set in the aftermath of the WTO conference, the Seattle Police Department and the Seattle Police Officers Guild have returned to the bargaining table. They will try once again to hammer out a new contract.

The two sides have been talking for months now. But negotiations have broken down so much that Fred Rosenberry, a mediator from the state's Public Employees Relations Commission, has been called in to help.

Both sides remain tight-lipped about the details in dispute. The city refuses to "negotiate through the media," but the Guild isn't shy about talking about its biggest sticking point: Chief Norm Stamper's 12-point accountability plan.

Stamper and Mayor Paul Schell introduced the 12-point plan earlier this year, after the department came under fire for police misconduct. It was a response to a public outcry for department reform. That outcry has grown dramatically since the WTO conference. The city council has already held two marathon hearings to investigate reports of police misconduct against demonstrators.

"I would be hopeful that the city would have as much interest in hearing from its employees as they have from protest groups," says J. D. Miller, vice president of the Guild. "They speak about how they support labor. We'd like to see that in the negotiations."

WTO or no WTO, the guild has a major problem with the 12-point plan. Among other things, the plan calls for the possible termination of officers who fail to report the misconduct of other officers. It also calls for a new "early warning system," to keep better tabs on officer foul-ups such as vehicle accidents and absenteeism. These ideas are a violation of union rights, the Guild insists.

"It's just the most anti-labor stance a mayor in this city has taken in the memory of the Guild," Miller says. "That's sad. It's going to damage labor relations for us and every other union in the city." 1200 cops will be governed by the contract.

The guild has already filed a complaint with Washington's Public Employees Relations Commission, the state's version of the National Labor Relations Board.

Support The Stranger