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SLO approves union contracts that save the city money, officials say

San Luis Obispo firefighters battle a house fire at the corner of Bahia Court and Alrita Street in October 2017.
San Luis Obispo firefighters battle a house fire at the corner of Bahia Court and Alrita Street in October 2017. dmiddlecamp@thetribunenews.com

The San Luis Obispo City Council on Tuesday approved three-year contracts with two employee groups that city officials say will keep wages competitive while also contributing to its goal of reducing pension costs.

The council unanimously approved the agreements between the city and its unrepresented management employees and firefighters union, the latter of which had been held up in litigation over disputes involving overtime pay.

Last week, the city announced it had reached an agreement with Firefighters Local 3523 to resolve a lawsuit filed in federal court that alleged the city miscalculated fire employees’ overtime pay for approximately three years. Members of the union had also filed a formal grievance with the city, alleging it violated the union’s contract when it approved without their involvement the creation of three additional positions to reduce overtime costs.

The agreement reached last week quashes both the litigation and grievance, and fire employees will be awarded a total of less than $3,000 for the allegedly lost overtime pay.

The city says both contracts approved this week include cost savings that will contribute to closing a $8.9 million budget gap caused by increased pension costs, in part, by increasing employees’ contributions to CalPERS and health insurance.

The city continues to work with representatives of the police officers’ and city employees’ bargaining units toward those groups’ labor contracts.

The city says it anticipates total employee concessions equaling roughly $1.9 million by fiscal year 2020-21.

Matt Fountain 781-7909, @mattfountain1
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