The Annapolis Police Department's union and the city will head back to the bargaining table, after union members overwhelmingly rejected the city's first salary and benefit proposal.
"We are tired of working shorthanded! We are tired of the lack of recruiting efforts by the city! We are just tired!" read a flier distributed by the United Food and Commercial Workers Local 400.
On Thursday the union turned down the city's offer of a 2 percent cost-of-living increase. It is seeking 8 percent.
In a statement Friday, Mayor Ellen O. Moyer called the two-year contract offer "generous and fair"; the city's outside counsel echoed her take.
"Under Moyer, the police officers have been treated very well," said attorney Eric Paltell. "She instituted retiree medical benefits, which they had not had before, and a number of very generous wage increases. This time, unfortunately, we don't seem to be at a point to get the rank-and-file membership on board."
Starting salary for officers is $44,631, which puts the city on par with 90 percent of other jurisdictions in the state, Paltell said.
The force has 20 vacancies. With all positions full, there should be 125 officers, said Officer Hal Dalton, a spokesman for the department.
He said the vacancy problem has persisted for the past six months and often means officers have difficulty scheduling time off.
Other unresolved issues are the level of the pension benefit and the union's request for a recruiting budget.
Union members balked at what they said was the city's attempt to reduce benefits and use pension funds to pay for wage increases.
"We don't want other officers leaving because of salary," said Officer Kevin Freeman, a union spokesman. "Typically departments that pay the most and have better benefits don't have staffing issues."
Since no agreement has been reached, union officials will confer with members in the coming days and then reopen talks with the city.
The current contract expires Saturday.