The majority of 23 El Dorado Hills Community Services District union employees showed solidarity by attending the board meeting July 11. The union and CSD declared impasse June 28 after the two parties couldn’t agree on the new employee contract that was to go into effect July 1. Several employees voiced their frustration that the CSD’s new employee contract isn’t good enough, namely that one contingency should be off the bargaining table.
Highlights of what the district called its “last, best and final” proposal include 100-percent payment of both the employee and employer share of CalPERS retirement costs and a salary increase of 3 percent on July 1, 2013 (retroactive once the contract is ratified). Employees will also receive a 3 percent raise July 1, 2014 and on July 1, 2015.
However, the contingency states that should CalPERS raise their rates more than 5 percent above the overall rates it charged last fiscal year, the CSD will give the employees a 2.5 percent raise instead of the full 3 percent.
The potential half-percent difference makes a big difference, though, said employees at the meeting. Union president Terry Halvorson spoke first. “The contingency thing hurt us,” he said.
Several employees said it’s more morale bursting than about dollars and cents. Administrative assistant Judy Klein explained she does her work because she loves it. As an hourly employee, she said she gives it her all and stays after hours because that’s the kind of employee she is. “But this makes us not feel valued,” she said of the contingency caveat.
Youth and adult sports director Frank Sianez said the potential half-percent loss does add up to big money and made that point when he offered an analogy to describe what it’s like to not get a pay raise in five years.
“What if you made the same amount when your child was in eighth grade as when he went off to college?” he asked. “That’s five years in between. Not only is there now college for that parent, but water, gas, medical costs and food have gone up astronomically in the past five years.”
Throughout the evening the employees referred to the half-percent difference as being equal to $7,000, a number the CSD said is without merit.
There was also grumbling about the CSD’s reported $5 million in reserve. Wishing for “complete transparency,” the CSD explained after the meeting why they can’t meet the union’s wishes. “The union publicly raised its concern with the fact that the district currently maintains $5 million in reserve. The district has identified its reason for doing so, including financial commitments which will come due in the future totaling $11 million.” From needing 15 percent of operating costs in reserve to $384,789 due toward future employee retirement liabilities, several commitments were itemized.
CSD Human Resource Manager Tracey Lynn Lowry said, “They’ve been offered a good deal. A lot of community services districts, including Folsom, are actually cutting salaries right now and most employers do not pay 100 percent of CalPERS contributions.”
The district also cited other employee perks, like how employees may opt for $1,150 cash monthly should they not need medical benefits. They also said employees get four additional paid days between Christmas and New Year’s Holiday, which tacks nearly 2 percent more on to costs.
In the end, Sianez and others personally promised to recoup the half-percent deficit by continuing to be excellent employees as well as bring in more revenue for their programs.
Because the two sides have declared impasse, the union has petitioned for a mediator.