El Dorado County, employee union reach contract agreement | TahoeDailyTribune.com

El Dorado County, employee union reach contract agreement

Members of the El Dorado County Employees' Association ask for better wages at a Board of Supervisors meeting earlier this year. The county and employees' association have reached a contract agreement.
Mountain Democrat / Mackenzie Myers

PLACERVILLE, Calif. — After declaring their first impasse in 15 years in August, the El Dorado County Employees’ Association Local No. 1 (EDCEA) and the county itself have reached a contract agreement.

The county Board of Supervisors approved the agreement at its Dec. 4 meeting as an addendum to the consent calendar. The contract spans July 1, 2017 to June 30, 2020. It covers adjustments to wages, reemployment policies, compensation for employees living in the Tahoe Basin, longevity pay, uniform allowances, medical benefits and holiday pay.

While all these changes are technically new, according to EDCEA director Jere Copeland, most of them are due to updates to the county computer system which will impact pay schedules. The issues EDCEA and the county really dug into this time around were wages and longevity pay, Copeland said.

In June and August, county employees stormed Board of Supervisors meetings demanding better wages — a request that was partially answered via the agreement, Copeland said.

The new contract establishes a 1 percent raise for all employees and allows a one-time payment of $2,400 to be given to four employees who were accidentally left out of the opportunity last year, Copeland said.

The agreement also bumps up employee pay to 10 percent below the “market median wage” for each job classification, based on a 2018 wage benchmark survey. After the first full pay period in July 2019, county employees will then make 8 percent below the median wage for their position.

County spokeswoman Carla Hass said one of the county’s goals in bringing wages up to 10 percent below the market median was to help with recruiting new staff and retaining current employees.

“The county has a goal to have all classifications paid at the median of the market and is committed to implementing a financially sustainable solution to meet this goal,” Hass wrote in an email.

In raising employees’ payment to 10 percent below median wage, Copeland said some employees will see a 14 to 17 percent raise while others who have hovered at or near that 10 percent area will not feel much impact.

Thoughts on the outcome will likely be personal and individual to each employee, Copeland said.

Longevity pay is another area where employees are likely to be affected to differing degrees. The new contract lists longevity pay as 5 percent of base pay after 10 years of work, 7.5 percent after 15 years and 10 percent after 20 years.

New employees and those hired after Dec. 19, 2017 — the date the Board of Supervisors approved the parties’ memorandum of understanding — are not eligible for any kind of longevity pay, nor are those who separated from county work and were re-hired after that date.

Those hired before Dec. 19, 2017 and who are eligible for the 10-year tier can receive that pay but don’t qualify for subsequent pay tiers. For employees hired before Dec. 19, 2017 who have achieved at least the first longevity tier, they can continue to advance to other tiers until the first day of the pay period that includes June 30, 2020, the day the contract ends. After that point, employees will remain frozen in whichever longevity tier they occupy.

Talks for the next contract agreement will open up about a year from now, Copeland said, since they typically begin in November or December of the year preceding the current contract’s end.

Hass wrote that the county plans to strategize to bring all job classifications up to market median pay during the next contract negotiation. Copeland aims to ask for the same thing he and EDCEA members sought with signs and T-shirts at Board of Supervisors meetings this summer.

“The whole idea, what we’re supposed to do, is bring people up to the median (wage),” Copeland said. “We need to find some way to help all our employees and that’s what we’ll be aiming for in the next round.”

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