Published: February 8, 2018 at 4:55 PM
Before the October 2017 wildfires, the County and the labor
unions were preparing to start bargaining for successor labor agreements.
In the wake of the fires, the County’s labor unions recognized that the fires
shifted the County’s priorities to helping the community recover. The
majority of the unions formed a coalition recognizing that a short term
extension of their agreements could assist the County in maintaining their
focus on recovery. The County appreciates the Coalition’s efforts to
broker an extension of the labor agreements. Unfortunately, after two
meetings between the Coalition and the County, the parties were unable to agree
to terms for the extension.
While the County and the Coalition agree that extending the
labor agreements for 12 months is necessary given the fiscal uncertainty
surrounding the wild fires, the County is not in a position to grant a 2% cost
of living salary increase. Because there is still so much fiscal
uncertainty, the County could not, in good conscience, agree to more financial
risk that could result in reductions in services, employee layoffs, and use of
reserves to fund ongoing increased operating costs.
The County recognizes there is pressure on our employees due
to the increased cost of living in our community. The County asked the
labor coalitions to accept maintaining salaries and benefits at present levels
for 12 months to allow the County more time to fully assess and plan around the
fiscal impacts. Additionally, as a show of good faith, the County was
willing to absorb upcoming increased costs to medical premiums to ensure that
employees would not experience increases in their out of pocket costs for
medical insurance. The County also asked labor to consider contract
language edits that would allow the County to address medical benefit
inequities with other employee groups without impacting current level of
The County wishes to thank its labor representatives for
engaging in coalition discussions and it looks forward to continuing
discussions with the individual bargaining units going forward.