August 19, 2011 > Supervisors ratify contract with SEIU
Supervisors ratify contract with SEIU
Submitted By Gwendolyn Mitchell/Laurel Anderson
The Santa Clara Board of Supervisors unanimously ratified an agreement with SEIU Local 521, on August 9, 2011, that will save nearly $78.1M from all County funds over two years.
"Everyone worked together and wanted to make this happen," said Santa Clara County Board President Dave Cortese. "I'm proud of the way our employees conducted themselves throughout the negotiations during these very difficult economic times. The tough times aren't over but we'll continue to talk and deal with each other with respect."
"When we use words like respect and dignified, we mean our employees have been astute enough to understand the difficulty the County faces and have done their part in making tremendous sacrifice," Cortese continued. "The creative thinking, ideas, willingness to put forward opportunities of which the County can take advantage, to make the adopted budget work, were numerous and in some cases brilliant."
SEIU Local 521 represents 8,000 of the nearly 15,000 County employees in seven bargaining units. Among them are administrative, professional, clerical, blue collar, public health nurses, environmental health specialists, social service workers and the probation counselor safety employees.
SEIU employees will take 10 unpaid furlough days off during the year. Also, County holidays will be reduced from 12 to eight in the first year. New hires will be paid at 10 percent below the current minimum salary for existing jobs. Employees will contribute two percent more of their salary towards retirement, for a total of six percent. Employees will now pay more for health plan co-payments, depending on the health plan. Also, for the first time, existing employees are paying contributions towards future premiums for retiree health benefit costs. The first year's savings amount to $45.2M for all County funds. In the second year, employees will be required to take four unpaid furlough days and only two holidays are eliminated. The second year's savings amount to $32.9M for a combined total of $78.1M of all County funds, including the General Fund.
"We celebrate our fabulous employees. It's a very difficult financial time. It's difficult to have concessions on the table. It's very difficult for everyone to consider the stresses and challenges financially. I want to thank the members of SEIU. They have demonstrated they care deeply about the services they provide to the people of Santa Clara County. They care deeply about the County, so they came to the table and did their part. For that we shall be forever grateful. It's a fabulous team effort," stated Supervisor George Shirakawa.