VACAVILLE — Wage concessions proposed by the city are appropriate, a mediator says of Vacaville and Local 39 – a finding the union disputes.
Mediator Paul Roose said in his advisory findings, posted Monday on the city’s website, that all other bargaining units agreed to concessions equivalent to what the city proposes for Local 39, the engineers local of about 90 members in the Public Works and Utilities departments.
“This includes the police and fire unions, organizations that traditionally have ‘most favored nation’ status in local government labor relations,” Roose wrote in the Aug. 15 findings and recommendations.
The mediator in his 14-page ruling added that the city’s proposal to the engineer’s local is not a measured response because the municipality proposed to condense two years worth of concessions into 10 months.
“Due to the sheer size of the sacrifice being asked, this creates an untenable short-term pay reduction for Local 39’s members,” Roose wrote. “Should the city implement its proposal as submitted to the fact-finding panel, it would result in a pay cut of over 20 percent for a period from Sept. 1, 2014, through June 30, 2015.”
The city in April made its last, best and final offer to Local 39 to settle outstanding issues, Roose recounted. Local 39 sought the fact-finding review.
Steve Crouch, district manager for Sacramento-based Local 39, dissented from the mediator’s finding.
“He is apparently motivated by a desire to have Local 39 members ‘share the pain’ experienced by members of other bargaining units,” Crouch wrote. “No working person believes that the standard for workers should be the lowest common denominator.”
Crouch said Tuesday that Vacaville is healthy financially but still seeks wage reductions of between 8 and 11 percent.
The 8 percent cut represents the loss of $600 to $700 a month in pay for Local 39 members, Crouch said. The $1.5 million the city would realize from concessions would go to a municipality that already has healthy reserves, he said.
“That money was just going to go in the bank,” Crouch said.
He said the union has more than 100 contracts with local government in Northern California and that 99 percent involve pay increases of between 2 to 3 percent over the next three years.
Asked why Vacaville seeks pay cuts, Crouch said, “I struggle with that every night.”
The city seems to think it’s still 2008-10 when the country was in a recession, he said. Local 39 is an AFL-CIO union known for thoroughly questioning employers, Crouch added.
Mark Mazzaferro, Vacaville’s spokesman, said matters including city pensions leave the municipality with more than $200 million in unfunded liabilities.
“Our goal with the operation of the city is to stay fiscally solvent,” he said. “We’re not looking at today. We’re looking at tomorrow and beyond.”
He said of Roose’s fact-finding that, “Overall we agree with the basic principles of his report.”
Mazzaferro said the city will continue to meet with Local 39 representatives to reach an agreement.
Roose wrote that the city has made certain conservative assumptions about its expenditures that may or may not pan out.
Reach Ryan McCarthy at 427-6935 or [email protected]