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January 6, 2012 > Water District and unions agree on three-year contracts

Water District and unions agree on three-year contracts

Submitted By Teresa Alvarado

Santa Clara Valley Water District Board of Directors successfully concluded labor negotiations on Tuesday, Dec. 27, voting to approve the terms of two new Memoranda of Understanding with the two unions comprising mid-managers and engineers, both represented by the International Federation of Professional and Technical Engineers, Local 21.

The vote came one week after the board approved the terms of an agreement with the district's largest union, the Employees Association, represented by Local 101 of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees.

In all, the new agreements save more than $7.7 million over the three years of the agreements. "The district is affected by the weak economy like everyone else," said district board chairman, Don Gage. "Yet the district has some tremendous, costly challenges ahead, including seismic retrofits at some of our dams. To maintain the workforce necessary to meet these challenges and ensure a sustainable organization, we have to cut costs. I'm pleased that we have been able to do that without any layoffs or furloughs."

Highlights of the agreements include:

Starting in April, 2012, all employees will begin contributing 15 percent of their health care premiums.

Employees will pay 11 percent of contributions toward the California Public
Employees Retirement System, CalPERS.

Employees hired after Jan. 1, 2012 will be in a second-tier retirement plan, earning 2 percent of their salary, multiplied by their years of service, at age 60. Current employees continue to earn 2.5 percent at age 55.

Union-represented employees will receive no Cost Of Living Adjustment in 2012. In 2013, the COLA will be 1.5 percent and in 2014, 2.0 percent.

Sick leave payouts have been restructured, establishing a cap of 480 hours, reducing long term and ongoing liabilities.

Exempt leave of 20 hours a year has been eliminated for engineers; Management leave has been reduced by 28 hours per year.

Holidays have been reduced from 13 to 12, eliminating the Lincoln Birthday holiday.

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