Updated: Wed, Jul 6, 2011, 2:58 pm
Uploaded: Fri, Jul 1, 2011, 3:57 pm
Union concessions prevent layoffs
The City Council on Tuesday approved agreements with the city's union leaders to prevent layoffs over the next year.
Interim City Manager Melissa Stevenson Dile said the agreements with most of the city's non-public safety employees would cut health care costs and vacation costs enough to keep the city from making any layoffs or unexpected budget cuts this year.
Cost savings from the proposed contracts would save about $500,000 in 2011-12, which was the City Council's goal.
Dile said the cost savings comes from increasing hospital visit co-payments to $10 for "non-preventative" medical visits for all three employee groups, saving $150,000. The co-payments were previously free or $5. Vacation policies changed for all three groups, reducing the amount that can be paid out in cash and putting caps on how much vacation time can accrue, reducing the city's budget costs.
Police and fire managers agreed to not take any merit pay raises or cost of living adjustments for the year, while department heads and council appointees agreed to do the same for the third year in a row. The SEIU also agreed to one unpaid day off during the year.
SEIU leader Chris Costanzo said it was difficult for employees to put a cap on vacation time, as many employees see it as their only option for taking maternity leave. The city is unusual in not having a disability plan to allow that.
As a result of the cutbacks, two employees got to keep their jobs: an assistant at the Center for Performing Arts and a public safety public outreach coordinator. A vacant position for a community services officer will remain in the budget, while the deputy zoning administrator will remain a full time position. A half-time deputy fire marshal in charge of inspecting apartment buildings will now be funded for full time work to address a backlog of inspections.
The agreements were made with employee groups representing 75 percent of the city's 600 employees: the SEIU, the Eagles -- a mid-level managers union -- and unrepresented employees, which include department heads, council appointees, classified IT employees and fire and police managers.
Police and fire union contracts were not up for negotiation this year and neither group made any concessions, Dile said. Both unions had contract extensions given to them in the last two years which expire in June, 2012.
Addressing concerns about a potential conflict of interest, Dile said police Capt. Max Bosel was not involved in contract negotiations with police managers, but was involved in negotiations with fire department managers. Bosel has been filling in for Dile as interim assistant city manager and human resources director, a key position in negotiating with the city's unions. Bosel will go back to being a police captain in a few weeks.
See also: City passes budget, but waits on union deal
City budget relatively painless this year
Posted by Inside out/Outside in,
a resident of another community
on Jul 7, 2011 at 6:00 pm
Over the past 25 years, it was my choice to be a local government worker. I worked for several years in Silicon Valley as an electronics worker who made silicon chips. Pay was excellent in the private sector with business booming. Heck in 1980 as a single woman I was making $30 an hour in quality control in the wafer fab. Life WAS good. Then after three layoffs within 15 months due to the first dot.com bust/recession, and after another year of not finding any electronics work (only skills I had), I begged unemployment to retrain me for anything other than electronics. There were just NO jobs. I went through training, learned to work in an office setting and with job placement, landed my first local government job n 1984. My new starting wage would be $8 bucks an hour. Yep, less than half of what I made before. Shocked going from $30/hr. to unemployment and up a tiny bit to my new wage, I was THANKFUL for a stable job. I never wanted to get laid off again. Eventually I started a family and my stable job and benefits were appreciated more so than ever. It always bugged me that I could take my new skills and 'go private' and make $17 to $25 bucks an hour, but the fear of being laid off again with a family kept me a government worker. I raised my family over the years and my children make me extremely proud. They may not have had all the newest things or the name brand clothes, or got to travel during summer vacations, but they were healthy, happy, fed, clothed and sheltered with tons of love. So my point is all government workers KNOW they can make more money in private industry, yet choose to stay a government worker. You know we do take pride in taking care of communities we don't even live in.
Then the 90s came and things got better and private industry was booming again, private pay rates increased, bonuses increased, percentage rates on annual performance evaluations were in double digits, all the while as a government worker, I had (and was still thankful) that I had stability and benefits that were affordable and helped me raise my family. I was able to live comfortably within my means. Yes I could use a 10% annual pay raise, but my negotiated 4% spread over three years would have to suffice.
Now that private industry is not as generous with pay raises, benefits, and lays off employees to meet quarterly reporting, government workers are being attacked for what they have which has always been far less than private industry. Just check out government jobs on line to see what they pay. Anyone want to apply for a Federal, State, City, or County job?? Low pay great benefits-great pride in serving the public. One just cannot compare private industry pay and salaries to any government agency. What can be done is citizens vote in council members who are not using city council status as a stepping stone for their personal political careers and holds their senior staff accountable for utilizing public funds. I am thankful to live in a city where the ''city staff' really works with the unions to come to reasonable results that do not adversely affect employees while meeting budgets. Please hold your City Managers, City Directors, city staff/management, accountable and responsible for any wrong doings or missed budgets.
Please do not attack government workers for what they have (and for what you may have lost) because due to the pharmaceutical, medical, insurance industries, labor unions (or lack of support thereof) government workers too will soon have high medical premiums, low wages, and one paycheck from bankruptcy or layoff depending on how the agency meets its budget goals. They will pay for more with less. Typically after reaching a certain step level (1 thru 5) there are no more cost of living raises unless it is in the budget to recognize its employees and is negotiated fairly, otherwise no raises to pay for national cost of living increases ie. Food, gas, shelter, etc. I NEVER had a private industry person say they would like to have my job prior to 2007. Now, I am sure that someone would stab me in the back just to have my stable, low paying job with some benefits that remain……for now.
P.S. Steve from Sylvan Park neighborhood, go to any local City agency website (City of Redwood City, Palo Alto, Sunnyvale, Mountain View) and in the Human Resources area you will find the labor agreements and pay salaries for all workers (management, PD, Fire, SEIU, etc.) I am knowledgable and I hope you have been enlightened. The information is there. Seek and ye shall find.
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