Brothers & Sisters,
As you know, your Local 1014 Executive Board has been engaged in intense negotiations with the County on two separate but equally important fronts—our salary contract negotiations and for our fringe benefits negotiations through the County Coalition of Unions (CCU).
The CCU negotiates benefits separately from wages and unit-specific working conditions in partnership with the ten diverse unions, including our firefighters, deputy sheriffs, doctors, engineers, probation officers, building and construction trades workers. For more than 30 years, we have negotiated a fringe benefits contract including our medical, dental, sick leave, vacation, and retirement benefits, with the CCU in order to get the best benefits for our members.
Last week, after three days of intensive bargaining, late Friday night the ten unions in the CCU rejected the County’s offer regarding our fringe benefits. Yesterday, Local 1014 and its CCU partners met once again with the County negotiators and worked long and hard to make progress toward a fair agreement. While many items regarding our fringe benefits have started to shape up, there are still a number of items of great significance that we remain apart on.
According to County negotiators, in order to come into compliance with the law as clarified in the case of Flores vs. City of San Gabriel the County needs to drastically reduce the amount of money employees take home as income from the Choices Plan (the unspent benefits allowance). For some, this amount is more than $600 per month. The County’s strategy is to transfer money from the Choices Plan into wages.
This offer would have taken more than $100 million from members’ pockets –and for our members this could mean as much as $2,920 a year per person – nearly wiping out proposed pay raises.
Although we respect that the County is facing some legitimate legal challenges due to Flores, the economy is strong, the County’s reserves are overflowing, and no one has indicated that the County’s budget requires a $100+ million pay cut for hard working employees. As our Local 1014 members face an unprecedented wave of call increases and the worst fire season in California’s recent history, we cannot allow the County to balance its books on the backs of our members.
We will reconvene on Wednesday October 10th and will fight hard to gain the ground needed to secure a fair fringe benefits contract for all our members.
Likewise, we rejected the County’s latest salary offer. On this front, however, we are getting very close on the numbers and we will be reconvening with the County soon to try to close the gap. We have proposed a counter offer that we feel is fair and consistent with public safety compensation.
As of today, it is interesting to note that while ALADS, the Sheriff’s Union, settled 90 days ago, not one penny of money has made it into their members pockets. The County CEO has been a major obstacle for all Unions at their bargaining table in large part due to her inexperience in handling major Union negotiations. We will continue to work to get both tables done and the salary and benefits our members deserve.
Your Local 1014 Executive Board is fighting hard to ensure that our members get the wages, benefits and working conditions they need and deserve. We refuse to accept a solution that hurts you and your family.
We will continue to update you as negotiations for both fringe benefits and our salary contract continue.
President Dave Gillotte and your Executive Board