233 city employees could get more money in San Luis Obispo

The San Luis Obispo City Council will vote next week on compensation packages for the city’s non-public safety employees that include a 2 percent cost-of-living raise increase this year and a second similar increase next year.

The agreements also propose salary increases for 116 employees to raise their pay to comparable positions in similar cities. Those raises range from 2.7 percent to 15.7 percent, depending on the position.

If approved, the tentative agreements will affect the pay of the 151 employees represented by the San Luis Obispo City Employees Association; 79 unrepresented management employees including the city manager and attorney, department heads and other supervisory staff; and three unrepresented confidential employees: a paralegal, human resources administrative assistant and human resources specialist.

All three groups have been working without agreements since previous deals expired on Dec. 31, 2014.

The proposed pay increases are included in the city’s 2015-17 financial plan and were calculated into the city’s five-year fiscal forecast, according to a city staff report.

The three agreements will result in an immediate cost of $220,000 for the 2014-15 fiscal year.

Following nine negotiation meetings between December 2014 and June 1, SLOCEA membership ratified their tentative Memorandum of Agreement, or MOA, with the city on June 19, association President Ron Faria said.

That MOA will be retroactive to Jan. 1, 2015, and last 18 months through June 30, 2016, city human resources Director Monica Irons said Tuesday.

It includes a 2 percent cost of living increase effective Jan. 1, 2015, and a second 2 percent increase in January 2016. It maintains the current health insurance cost-sharing arrangement that increased the city’s contribution by 50 percent of the average increase in CalPERS medical premiums.

The agreement also includes low-cost changes such as salary step progression after one year at each step through the salary range, given the employee’s performance is at least satisfactory, and a definition of “hours worked” in order to consistently calculate overtime for eligible employees.

The proposed two-year agreements for unrepresented confidential and management employees will extend from Jan. 1, 2015, through Dec. 31, 2016. Both also include two 2 percent cost of living increases, the first effective Jan. 1, and the second in January 2016.

The city will maintain the current healthcare cost-sharing arrangement for those groups.

Employee pay was cut by 6.8 percent for SLOCEA members and unrepresented staff in 2012, when employees agreed to pay their full 8 percent member contribution to CalPERS and shared cost of increases in health insurance premiums.

According to Faria, SLOCEA employees have not received a cost-of-living increase since December 2010. Unrepresented employees have not received increases since January 2009.

City officials cited increased turnover and the need to remain competitive as an employer as a reason to give raises to 116 employees in 43 job classifications. A city benchmark study last year showed that those positions are underpaid when compared to the median pay of comparable jobs in the labor market.

Those 43 job classifications are filled by 80 SLOCEA employees and 36 unrepresented employees.

The increases will range from 2.7 percent to 12 percent for SLOCEA positions and between 5 percent to 15.7 percent for unrepresented staff.

“It’s about remaining competitive and attracting and retaining good, qualified employees,” Irons said.

Faria said 87 percent of his membership voted for the proposed MOA, and general concerns from those who opposed it centered mainly on disagreements over which job titles were deemed prime for salary increases based on the city’s study.

The tentative labor agreements will go before the City Council at a special meeting at 4 p.m. July 7.