Key County Issues
Contra Costa County is facing many critical issues, among them how to protect the Delta, implement the incoming Affordable Care Act, and manage the influx of low-level criminal offenders who are being transferred to local jurisdictions.
Another key issue involves contract negotiations with our many bargaining units, and the County wants to keep the public informed when salary talks have the potential to impact delivery of programs and services.
Contra Costa County values its employees and the contributions they bring in delivering services, programs and information to the public. We are proud of the work they do every day.
As valued members of the County family, our workers receive competitive salaries and an excellent benefit package, including health and dental care, life insurance and retirement. Rising health care costs are a concern for employers and employees across the nation. County Administrator David Twa recently shared some encouraging news with all Contra Costa employees regarding anticipated costs for the upcoming open enrollment period. Read the memo here.
Most of our management and professional employees are represented by Local 21. There are 824 members of Local 21, and they work in a wide variety of departments throughout the County. The County has been negotiating since April of 2012 with Local 21, meeting more than two dozen times in an effort to reach a fair agreement. The County is offering a two-year contract with an up-front signing bonus of $1000 upon ratification. The proposal includes a 2% increase on July 1, 2013, and a second 2% pay hike on July 1, 2014, and some compaction adjustments to selected positions. The proposal seeks no reduction in benefits, no layoffs, and no furloughs.
Local 21 continues to seek a contract that would cost more than twice what the County is offering. Contra Costa County has more than 7,500 employees, most of whom have shared the burden of the recession by agreeing to pay cuts over the past few years in order to save jobs and continue to provide service to the public. With the economy showing signs of recovery, the County wants to begin to improve salaries across the workforce. There is not enough money available to provide the kind of wage hikes Local 21 is seeking. The employer's share of pension costs is scheduled to increase by more than $31 million in 2014.
Questions have been asked as to why the County is not willing to use the Tax Loss Reserve Fund (sometimes referred to as the Teeter Fund) to provide money for wages and benefits for employees. On May 21, 2013, County Auditor Bob Campbell gave an explanation to the Board of Supervisors on the uses of that fund. The presentation can be viewed online.
Regrettably, while the County would like to continue to bargain in good faith, members of Local 21 have authorized their leadership to call a strike. We do not know if or when that will take place, but we can assure you that we will do our best to continue to deliver quality services to the public. We will keep you posted on labor issues, as they progress, on this website.