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Tacoma community members come to bargaining table with city, police union

The streets of downtown Tacoma are empty amid the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.
Photo by Tom Collins
The streets of downtown Tacoma, seen here in March 2020, are empty amid the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

Thursday marks the start of negotiations between the city of Tacoma and Tacoma Police Union Local No. 6 on a new contract.


Will Hausa is one of two community members who will be joining the city at the bargaining table for the first time.He is a member of the Tacoma Pierce County Black Collective and chairman of the state Commission on African American Affairs.


Hausa said he wants to learn more about the bargaining process, and there are some things he hopes to see come out of it.


"I would definitely want to get a really strong understanding of the needs of Local 6," Hausa said. "I think as community, we want what we want. But ultimately, it's Local 6's agreement with the city of Tacoma. And so I think that we have to be able to partner with Local 6 to make sure that when they are advocating for the issues that are important to them, they're also advocating for the issues that's important to the community." 

Hausa will be joined by Tisha Marie Wosencroft, founder of the local organization LegallyBLACK. Hausa said he will mainly be a fly on the wall during negotiations to listen and observe.

"I felt it was my responsibility to take on that role just to get a better understanding of that process, because when it's behind closed doors, there's always going to be a lack of transparency," he said. "We just don't know what's being said, what's being done or are our issues that are important to us are even being discussed."

Negotiations are beginning amid tensions between the community and the police department over incidents involving police from the past year, including the killing of Manuel Ellis. Washington Attorney General Bob Ferguson is expected to decide whether any of the officers involved will face charges in the coming weeks.

Meanwhile, an investigation continues into January's use of force incident, in which a Tacoma police officer drove his vehicle through a crowd of people. 

The Tacoma police union did not respond to a request for comment about the start of negotiations.

The community members were selected by City Manager Elizabeth Pauli, according to a city spokesperson. The city says the bargaining timeline will depend on the complexity of negotiations. Once the city and police union reach an agreement, it will be presented to the City Council to be ratified.

Rebekah Way is an on-call news host at KNKX. She began her career in public radio as a news intern at KNKX, where she's also worked as an interim producer and reporter. Rebekah holds a life-long passion for music and also works as a professional musician and educator in the Seattle area.