Placer supes OK 2 percent raise in 2013 for county workers

1,700-member Placer Public Employees Organization agrees to new pact
By: Gus Thomson, Journal Staff Writer
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AUBURN CA - A new round of 2 percent employee pay raises was approved Tuesday by the Placer County Board of Supervisors – the first across-the-board hike for the 1,700-member Placer Public Employees Organization since 2009. The unanimous approval by supervisors signals an increase that will take effect at the end of the new pact in December 2013. The organization represents 75 percent of Placer County’s work-force, excluding public safety and upper management. For an entry-level clerk now making between $29,856 to $36,291 annually, the raise would be between $597 and $725 a year. For an auto mechanic working for Placer County, the 2 percent boost means between $926 and $1,126 more on a salary ranging between $46,317 and $56,299, based on years worked and stepped pay increases already built into the county contract. The County Executive Office and Personnel Department estimated that the total full-year cost for the wage increase, plus adjustments in the employee CalPERS retirement contribution, would be an estimated $3.17 million in 2013-14. Board Chairwoman Jennifer Montgomery said feedback from employees indicates they’re thankful for the respect they felt they were getting during bargaining sessions and felt their needs were being considered. “We have something that everyone can live with,” Montgomery said. Represented by the Local 39 Stationary Engineers International Union of Operating Engineers, members voted 91 percent in favor of the new pact and the 2 percent raise in mid-July. Contract talks had started in March 2011. In the contract, employees will also pay the full share of their pension, in return for a county contribution to a “cafeteria” plan. Most will receive 6 percent of their salary for pension costs that can be cashed out. Therese Leonard, county principal management analyst, outlined several cost-cutting moves by the county that employees were involved in over the past five years to help ease the impact of lowered revenues. Leonard said that revenue in property tax has declined $16.4 million, or 12.4 percent, since the high was reached in 2007. Among the cost-cutting measures was a hiring freeze, more than a dozen unpaid furlough days, and an increase in cost-sharing on health insurance premiums and pensions, she said. “They participated in keeping this county in a strong financial position,” Leonard said. While union representatives weren’t available for comment Tuesday, President Aaron Johnson wrote in a recent statement posted on the Local 39 website that negotiators believe it’s a fair one, “given the current political and economic climate.” “For those that aren’t sure what the political climate is, just look at Sacramento City, San Jose, Orange County and the governor in Wisconsin,” Johnson stated.