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County, Unions Reach Agreement on Concessions

Facing deep budget cuts, deferring pay raises and freezing benefit allowance hikes will help save jobs

Hot on the heels of the Santa Barbara County Executive Office’s newly released budget cut recommendations, several labor unions on Tuesday forged concession agreements with the county in order to save jobs and maintain service levels.

Although the Board of Supervisors has not yet adopted a budget, CEO Mike Brown’s recommendations called for more than $16 million in cuts, eliminating nearly 139 positions across county agencies.

The Service Employees International Union Local 620, the Engineers and Technicians Association and the Union of American Physicians and Dentists together represent more than half of the county’s 4,000 employees.

The tentative agreements with the SEIU Local 620 and the ETA (and for 64 confidential, unrepresented employees) include:

» Deferring a 2.5 percent wage increase through June 26, 2011.

» Holding in abeyance a $20 per pay period benefit allowance increase scheduled for July 12, 2010, through June 26, 2011, at which time, the county and the unions will meet to discuss this provision.

» Eliminating a 1.5 percent equity adjustment.

The UAPD agreed to eliminating a $20-per-pay-period benefit allowance increase scheduled for June 28, and deferring a 3.5 percent wage increase scheduled from Oct. 4, 2010, to June 26, 2011.

By deferring pay increases and freezing benefit allowance increases, the agreement — approved Tuesday by the Board of Supervisors — is expected to save the county nearly $10 million this year. It’s provisions cover fiscal year 2010-11, with a provision that union leaders meet with county supervisors in late June 2011 to reopen discussion on the matter.

For the concessions, employees represented by these unions will receive 40 hours of paid time off, time that is to be taken between Christmas and Jan. 1, 2011. Employees who can’t take time off then will need to use the time within a year. The 40 hours has no cash value, and will be pro-rated for part-time employees.

“I want to thank our unions and their leaders on behalf of the board for stepping up to help the county address its financial challenges,” board chairwoman and Second District Supervisor Janet Wolf said. “I know this was not an easy thing to do, and our employees have shown a sincere desire to help.”

Third District Supervisor Doreen Farr said several other labor organizations are in negotiations with the county, and that they may come forward to the board with similar concession proposals in the coming weeks.

It’s not yet clear how many jobs out of the cuts recommended by Brown will be saved, or in which departments.

Noozhawk staff writer Ben Preston can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).

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