City completes negotiations with workers
by Nick Rappley | Patterson Irrigator
Jan 24, 2013 | 1303 views | 0 0 comments | 6 6 recommendations | email to a friend | print
A memorandum of understanding that granted merit raises for the first time in four years for the biggest bargaining unit for city workers passed the City Council 4-0 at a special City Council Meeting, Tuesday, Jan. 22. Councilwoman Deborah Novelli was absent from the proceeding. The city has had a council-imposed citywide wage freeze for the last three fiscal years ending June 30, 2011. A cost of living adjustment was given to employees last year retroactive to July 1, 2011.

Councilman Dominic Farinha said he felt all parties were happy with the result.

“There was a lot of time, effort and consideration put into this,” he said. “I look forward to working with (the union) in the future.”

The new package is estimated to cost the city $120,000 to $130,000 more with a general fund impact of $60,000 to $65,000 more a year.

The two-year MOU was with, which is the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, Local 10. It represents 53 employees in the public works, community services, recreation, fire, community development and finance departments. The city’s other unit is the firefighter bargaining unit — International Association of Firefighters local 4577 — which represents the city’s 12 paid firefighters.

The most recent MOU with AFSCME expired June 30, 2012, and the city and local have been in negotiations regarding the matter since last year.

An agreement was reached after union employees overwhelmingly approved the plan with 88.8 percent of the vote in November, according to a staff report prepared by City Manager Rod Butler.

The new agreement includes a 4 percent base wage increase to all AFSCME 10 represented employees effective April 1, 2014 if city sales tax revenues are more than $2.1 million. In addition, all normal evaluation-based salary raises will be put back into effect retroactively to July 1, 2012, according to the staff report.

The city will also pay 100 percent of the health insurance for workers in within the bargaining unity during the contract.

Councilman Larry Buehner for one said overall he was happy with the agreement but took issue with one item. He said he didn’t like tying future revenues in sales tax to wage increases.

“Overall it was good, but a few improvements could’ve been made,” he said.

The union and city officials will continue to meet to put together a two-tiered system for union employees hired after Jan. 1, 2013. A two-tiered system would mean lower health and retirement benefits for new hires in the future. Butler said he hopes to have the actual system in place for all management and rank and file employees by July 1, 2013.

Mayor Luis Molina said he was personally happy with the MOU.

“In general terms its refreshing and a blessing that we’re able to reach an agreement at this point,” he said. “Other communities are struggling with this.”

Councilwoman Sheree Lustgarten could not be reached for comment for the print edition Wednesday, Jan. 23.

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