Labor Agreements Move to City Council for Final Approval

San Jose has reached multi-year agreements with all but one of its 11 employee unions, the city announced at the end of last week.

The contracts, which come up for City Council approval Tuesday and have yet to be ratified by union members, would restore salaries cut during times of economic hardship.

Only the police union, whose contract expires at the end of December, remains in talks about pay and benefits. The Police Officers Association represents 1,000 officers in the San Jose Police Department and blames the city’s pension reforms for thinning the ranks. POA leaders urged the city to act before the July recess or risk losing more officer,according to the Mercury News. 

The remaining 10 union agreements coming to a council vote this week represent some 4,300 of the city’s 5,300 workers.

Most of the terms, reached after months of negotiation, provide for 3-percent pay raises and 1-percent signing bonuses. Six unions that shook hands over a deal last week include: the Association of Building, Mechanical and Electrical Inspectors, Association of Legal Professionals, International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local 332, Association of Engineers and Architects, City Association of Management Personnel and Association of Maintenance and Supervisory Personnel.

A week prior, the city agreed to 14 percent in ongoing pay raises for the 671 firefighters in the San Jose Fire Fighters IAFF Local 230—the first salary increase for the San Jose Fire Department since 2008. The three-year contract also includes a 2 percent non-pensionable lump-sum bonus and language that would protect minimum staffing levels and provide for an organizational review of the department.

The International Union of Operating Engineers Local 3, Municipal Employees’ Federation and Confidential Employees’ Organization signed that same week ending June 12.

All city employees took a 10 percent pay cut in 2010, as the city dealt with critical funding shortfalls from widespread economic recession coupled with soaring retirement costs. Hundreds of employees were laid off. Two years later, voters passed citywide pension reforms that dialed down pension and disability benefits and prompted a years-long legal battle with its labor unions.

Since that time, police have seen 7 percent of their pay restored, with another 3 percent coming next month. But POA leaders note that dozens of officers have left the city since the start of the year, with more expected to part ways by the end of the year.

But city officials have said it seems unlikely that the police will come to an agreement before the end of the fiscal year June 30.

“We are pleased the leadership of [San Jose’s employee unions] came to the table prepared to find a way to improve both wages and working conditions for their members, but to do so within our means,” Mayor Sam Liccardo said in a statement Friday. “This means we’ve reached negotiated contracts with 10 of our 11 unions covering the next fiscal years, and look forward to reaching an agreement on the last one to go beyond this year. While our goals include restoring services to our residents, we look forward to restoring wages responsibly to our employees as well.”

More from the San Jose City Council agenda for June 23, 2015:

WHAT: City Council meets
WHEN: 1:30pm Tuesday
WHERE: City Hall, 200 E. Santa Clara St., San Jose
INFO: City Clerk, 408.535.1260

Jennifer Wadsworth is a staff writer for San Jose Inside and Metro Newspaper. Email tips to jenniferw@metronews.com or follow her on Twitter at @jennwadsworth.

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