Public sector workers have scrambled in recent months to defend their wages and benefits as economic problems mount for many California municipalities.
Local 1245 members at the City of Oakland on June 26 concluded negotiations in which the City was seeking 10% budget savings from its “miscellaneous” unions. The City was facing an $85 million budget shortfall.
The new agreement, ratified by Local 1245 members on July 1, requires all members to take nine unpaid days off during the fiscal year 2009-2010 and eight unpaid days during 2010-2011, in addition to the four closure days in December of each year. Employees will now pay the full employee contribution of 8% to PERS, an increase of 5%.
“With the City’s $85 million budget shortfall, the only positive item would be that none of our members have been impacted by the City’s layoffs,” said Business Rep. Elizabeth McInnis.
One year has already been completed in the three-year agreement.
Three committees have been established to examine and report findings to the Oakland City Council in the following areas: retiree health benefits, temporary and part-time employees, and budget. All miscellaneous unions will participate on the committees.
Financial problems also made for difficult bargaining at the City of Healdsburg, according to Local 1245 Business Rep. Joe Osterlund.
On June 16, IBEW members voted on and approved a request by the City to modify the last year of the agreement. Under the modified agreement, the city will eliminate the scheduled 3% wage increase due on July 1, 2009. The City guarantees that there will be no furloughs, but lay-offs may still occur. Any employee whose job is to be eliminated may elect lay-off in lieu of displacement and still have all benefits as if they were laid off, including rehire rights.
At the City of Willits, members have agreed to wait until this time next year for the 2009 wage increase.
At the City of Redding, City and IBEW negotiators spent eight months in difficult negotiations before reaching agreement in late April on a contract extension through May 2010 for the Maintenance Unit that provides no general wage increase. However, the extension called for wage equity adjustments for Building and Trades and Electrical Technician classifications, and ad-hoc negotiations over a Water Distribution job classification. The City agreed to apply the value of the City’s former 2% cost of living adjustment to saving a full-time IBEW 1245 public works maintenance position, a job which had been slated for elimination amidst budget cuts.
Earlier this spring, Local 1245 negotiated a two-year extension of the agreement at the City of Lodi, extending it through 2013. Under the revised agreement, which contained wage increases, members will take the equivalent of seven days off without pay over the next 22 months.
Members at the City of Ukiah recently ratified a three-year agreement increasing members’ income by more than 23%. But the City has requested a meeting to discuss its financial situation. A meeting is scheduled for July 8.