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County union negotiations lead to agreements

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Two of San Luis Obispo County’s more powerful unions have reached tentative agreements over their pay and benefits packages for the coming year.

As of this printing, the 1,600 members of the largest county union, the San Luis Obispo County Employees’ Association (SLOCEA), were voting on the tentative agreement reached in early November. A simple majority of ballots cast is all that’s needed to accept the contract, which will then go to county supervisors for ratification.

SLOCEA General Manager Kimm Daniels said of the negotiations, “It was the single most difficult negotiations I’ve ever participated in.”

Members of the baby-fresh Association of San Luis Obispo County Deputy Sheriffs (ASLOCDS), which officially split from the Deputy Sheriffs Association (DSA) after a long and litigious breakup process, went to bat for its members for the first time this year.

ASLOCDS President Neil Clayton wouldn’t speculate whether the old union leadership would have provided a better deal, but said the end result was “a fair and equitable agreement for both sides.”

The union represents 110 sworn sheriff’s deputies ranging from the rank of deputy to sergeant, Clayton said. DSA leadership still negotiates for the remaining department employees in the jail and dispatch center.

Though county negotiators and ASLOCDS members agreed on the package, it still has to go to the Board of Supervisors for final approval, which has been scheduled for a Dec. 7 hearing.

Under the tentative terms, ASLOCDS members will receive a 2.98 percent increase under the county’s prevailing wage system, effective Jan. 1, 2011. Members agreed to increase their pension contribution rate by 2.98 percent, decrease the county’s rate by 2.98 percent, and include a 3.43 percent rate change retroactive to when the union was formed. The county also added a second tier pension “reopener,” according to the agreement.

County officials recently approved a contentious plan to begin implementing a 50-50 split for all pension-rate increases, add a two-tier pension system for non-union employees with plans to explore tiered pensions for all employees, and reform the prevailing wage model that essentially mandates higher compensation packages every year.

SLOCEA employees, should they approve their package, will receive a 1.88 percent wage increase, Daniels said. But, she added, union members deferred a 2.28 percent increase they were entitled to last year in order to save jobs, and trimmed back the increase this year to save jobs once again. The agreement also includes a 50-50 split between SLOCEA and the county for all pension increases, Daniels said.

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