The Annapolis police union unanimously rejected a contract last night calling for a 2 percent raise, head shop steward Sgt. John Mellon said.
More than 50 members of United Food and Commercial Workers Local 400 showed up at the Loews Annapolis Hotel to vote on the two hottest issues.
They rejected the proposed 2 percent salary increase and demanded a better disability pension plan for officers.
Police officers are forbidden by law from striking. Union official said last night that they were planning a media blitz to pressure city officials for a better contract. Mr. Mellon said there would be more negotiations with the City Council but that he did not know when.
He also said the union is considering a lawsuit against the city, claiming unfair labor practices.
"In the last year, we've lost 25 to 30 experienced officers to jurisdictions who are willing to pay better and offer better pensions," said Sergeant Mellon, who has been with the department for 19 years. "The police administration and city administration are obviously unhappy with the union.
"But what they don't seem to realize is that if they treated their officer's better, there wouldn't be a need for a union."
Sergeant Mellon dismissed rumors of a sick-out July 4 but said Police Chief Harold Robbins had called Anne Arundel County police and the Maryland State Police for backup on the holiday weekend just in case.
The union started a public campaign against the City Council's budget by handing out fliers and postcards protesting the pay raise and disability benefits. They also banded together with the city's firefighters and two American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees locals by buying full-page newspaper advertisements, demanding that "the council gets its act together and treats us decently."
"We feel it is a slap in the face what the council is offering us," said Officer John Miller, a shop steward who has been with the department for six years. "We worked with them when they were crying poor by accepting a cut in our cost-of-living benefits years earlier, but this time we don't think they're in such a poor economic state.
"We haven't rocked the boat before and we've been willing to cooperate. But it's been almost three years, and this time they've gone too far."