Local 39 contract negotiations difficult, creative

City reaches contract agreement reducing compensation, denying furloughs
By: Megan Wood The Press Tribune
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After months of “difficult negotiations,” the city reached an agreement with Local 39, a large union that includes city planners, engineers, environmental utilities, public works and many other city service employees, after re-opening their labor contract in search of 5 percent compensation concessions. According to Russ Branson, Roseville treasurer and member of the negotiation team meeting with the city’s bargaining groups, an estimated savings of $1.58 million came from the city eliminating their contribution to the labor union’s deferred compensation plan as well as a reduction in the city’s retirement benefit contribution for Local 39 employees. Prior to the council vote, Local 39 chief negotiator Marcia Mooney approached the podium and thanked city staff for working with the bargaining group through the negotiations. “Stacey Haney and Russ Branson did a wonderful job and worked in a professional manner,” Mooney said. “(They) worked with us to be creative to accomplish this agreement and with this we’ll have labor peace through 2011 and that’s very important to us, so I’d like to say thank you.” Earlier this year city staff determined that the final balance of the 2010 budget would require a 5 percent taking from each of the city’s bargaining groups, totaling approximately $6.75 million. Roseville Human Resources Manager Stacey Haney said that each bargaining group would be given flexibility and that the 5 percent could come from wages, retirement compensation and health benefits, to name a few. Furloughs, seen by city staff as a “short-term fix for a long term problem” were not considered as part of the negotiation process despite Local 39 requesting them in exchange for reduced compensation. Earlier this year, non-sworn members of the Roseville Police Association, agreed to re-open their contract in light of the current economy and were granted furloughs in addition to their 5 percent reductions through unpaid, approved vacation time to offset keeping a previously contracted 3 percent raise. “The only reason it worked for the non-sworn members was because they already had a system in place to approve vacation time 6 months in advance to plan for coverage,” Branson said. “Larger groups, like Local 39 are more complex because you start to affect city services like wastewater treatment or garbage, it’s not as seamless and we wanted to make sure the reductions affected everyone in the group equally.” Furloughs for Local 39, a labor union 450 members strong with varying work schedules and operations, were not granted due to its effect on city services and because the furloughs could not be distributed between all members fairly without interrupting city operations. Phone calls to Local 39 representatives were not returned for comment on the negotiation process and contract agreement with the city. “Negotiations like these are difficult no matter what,” Branson said. “With times the way they are, they are especially difficult and we appreciate the ability to maintain good relationships with all of our bargaining groups.” The amended contract was approved by a 3-0 vote, as Pauline Roccucci and Carol Garcia were both absent from Wednesday’s meeting. Roseville Police Officers Association and the city have reached an agreement and council will vote on their newly amended contract at the October 7 meeting. The International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, and final bargaining group to reach an agreement, is still in contract negotiations.