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Sebastopol city workers vote on benefits deal

By BOB NORBERG
THE PRESS DEMOCRAT

Members of a Sebastopol employee group will now pay for their retirement costs and increases in medical premiums as part of a contract agreement reached with the city.

But in return hourly employees will work fewer hours but retain the same gross wages.

Considering the city’s financial situation as it struggles to balance a budget for next year, the new agreement is fair, said police Chief Jeff Weaver, a member of the bargaining unit.

“We think it is necessary, we think it is reasonable,” Weaver said.

The bargaining unit represents 15 employees who are not members of the city’s other two bargaining units, the Service Employee Union International and the Police Officers Association.

The police association was to vote on a tentative agreement Wednesday night. Information on the SEIU was not available.

The city has tentative agreements with all three employee groups, which will be voted on by the City Council on June 21, said City Manager Jack Griffin, who declined to give details of the agreements.

The city’s proposed 2011-2012 budget of $5,005,700 is $1.2 million less than the current budget. It includes cuts in employee compensation, a move to a 36-hour work week, less support for community groups and non-profits and funds from the city’s reserve.

Under the tentative agreement with the non-union employees, the employees will pick up the cost of the Public Employees Retirement System contributions, which are 7 to 9 percent of their salaries, and increased costs of medical plan premiums, which for families can be as much as $130 a month, Weaver said.

Wages are frozen and workers will have a 36-hour work week, but those who are on an hourly wage schedule will have their wages increased so the gross wages remain the same.

Portions of the agreement can be reopened if the city’s financial situation swings 5 percent for either the better or worse.

After three years, the number of weekly hours will be increased until they are fully restored by the fifth year of the agreement.

The bargaining unit represents the police and fire chiefs, police lieutenant, administrative services officer, building official, city clerk, public works superintendent and assistant attendant, engineering director, planner, assistant planner, account technician, a secretary and two clerical workers.





9 Responses to “Sebastopol city workers vote on benefits deal”

  1. Rick says:

    There are many mysteries in government today. Some do know that the poeple actually running the government were elected by the taxpayers. The taxpayers have a say when they elect the politicians. After that, you have a say when they are re-elected, or not. In the beginning, you have a say. Contract negotiations? No way. Not happening. You gave the politicians the right to bargain in your interest when you elected them. Get over it. As to who pays ofr any particular contribution is always up for negotiation. That’s why it is called NEGOTIATING. No one likes to hear that someone else out there is getting more than they do or has a benifit they dont have. Life is not fair. All of you can get over that also. Outside of a few managers in the whole county, all the wages and benifits are just about on par with the other 9 bay area counties. All agencies try to keep it about the same. That’s the way it is. You can’t change it, all you can do is hope they will make a few adjustments to save a few bucks. Yes, they will get the money back in time. That’s why they are giving it up now.

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  2. Dan Delgado says:

    What hogwash! Let’s recap. The employees pick up THEIR pension contributions (which was THEIR obligation to begin with) in exchange for a reduced workweek at the SAME compensation!! Further, those on hourly wages will have their rates increased to offset for reductions attributable to the reduced workweek. Further still, the reduced hours are phased out in years three to five, but not the increased wages. Of course Chief Weaver thinks it’s fair. Who wouldn’t in his shoes? How come no comment from the taxpayers? They’re the ones getting hosed in this deal.

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  3. Concerned Taxpayer says:

    Just watch, I guarantee that the increased wage rate per hour will not reduce as the hours climb back to 40, in effect a pay raise.

    We need real pay cuts, especially from Public Safety and Management so that we can get the services our city needs at affordable cost to the taxpayers who are struggling, including the government workers. Past pay raises were far above the cost of living and are not sustainable.

    We need to roll back pay rates to sustainable levels, not lay people off. The days of taking a second mortgage and spending it freely are not coming back, so tax revenue will not recover to past highs and the City needs to face that reality.

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  4. Pearl Alquileres says:

    Spitfire: “Without these people so many vital community services would vanish.”

    WHEN?!!

    Thumb up 2 Thumb down 8

  5. Spitfire says:

    Something everyone everyone seems to forget is that these government workers are taxpayers too!! They oay the same taxes like all of you. Without these people so many vital community services would vanish.
    Everyone should be so ashamed at themselves for bashing these people who are working to make our communities a better place.

    Wake up people! If you want to know the truth of whats going on ask the employees. Don’t believe the politicians, they don’t care about anything other than themselves.

    And lastly, do yourselves a favor and understand that what you read in the newspaper, online blogs and other types of media is not always the truth.

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  6. Jack C. says:

    After discovering through news reports that public employees are enjoying public pensions of $100,000 a year and greater, I find it no surprise that Steve in his post above wants the news to look the other way.

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  7. Steve Humphrey says:

    It would be nice if the Press Democrat would discontinue to cover wage issues with public sector employees. Many of us who have faced extreme compensation decreases, higher shifts of benefit costs coupled with longer hours over the past two years are really getting fed up. Especially when the writer implies how disfortunate the public sector employees are in agreements such as this.

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  8. bear says:

    Lots of people would like better salaries and benefits, even if they had to give up income to get benefits.

    These employees are giving up wages AND benefits. And every job and dollar lost works against local business and economic recovery.

    Another recession is on the way.

    Anyone not liking this should consider the concepts of no government and no taxes. No defense spending and no unwinnable wars.

    Or should maybe should have applied for one of these “Cadillac” jobs. Too late now.

    All it took was education and expertise.

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  9. Lisa K. says:

    Isn’t it just amazing that the public employees figure they’re “doing their part” by contributing to their own retirement ?

    And the local media actually paints that kind of picture when the truth is that they are being given a pay raise (fewer work hours for the same pay).

    Don’t ask me for any more tax increases of any kind. I refuse to pay any increases. I’ll simply find a way around those kind of demands put upon my family.

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