After more than eight months of bargaining, the IBEW 1245 members at the City of Berkeley ratified a tentative agreement for a 16-month extension to the Memorandum of Understanding by a vote of 6-2. The IBEW 1245 negotiating committee consisted of bargaining unit members Greg Marwick, Tom Hartman, and Chris Kaldunski and Local 1245 Business Representative Al Fortier.
The MOU expired on June 17, 2017, but unfortunately, several months of negotiating had resulted in little movement on economic proposals. The city initially proposed a two-year deal with no cost-of-living adjustment (COLA) and a 20% employee contribution to medical premiums. Our committee made an initial proposal for a four-year term to the successor MOU with a 4% wage increase each year, as well as other enhancements in benefits and working conditions.
The city and our committee remained far apart on economics throughout bargaining. The city eventually proposed a two-year deal with a one percent (1%) COLA and a one-time lump sum stipend of approximately one percent based on a revenue sharing formula, as well as a 15% employee contribution of the cost of medical premiums. The city continued to maintain its position that there was an economic structural deficit within the city; however, our committee knew that there was a considerable revenue increase in the General Fund based on increased tax revenue. The city acknowledged the increased revenue, but claimed it was “one-time” money that could not be relied upon, and therefore should not be used for ongoing expenses such as salary increases.
The city and our committee began exploring terms for an extension of the expired agreement, and on January 25, 2018, a tentative agreement was reached. The TA included a 1% salary increase effective upon ratification and council approval, a $1,000 lump sum payment effective upon ratification and council approval, a new $200 annual shoe reimbursement, and double-time for overtime more than four hours. On January 30, the City of Berkeley members ratified the Tentative Agreement for a 16-month extension to the MOU. The MOU, as well as new salary levels for part of the bargaining unit, were approved by the Berkeley City Council on March 13, 2018.
The 16-month extension aligned our next MOU expiration with other miscellaneous bargaining units, and allowed our members to immediately benefit from the modest gains made during negotiations. It also allows the negotiating committee to regroup and get back to the table in six months to attempt to achieve further gains. Considering the circumstances, the committee should be proud for a job well done!
–Al Fortier, IBEW 1245 Business Rep