July 20, 2001

County Reaches Five-Year Accord With Employees

Workers Vote To Accept new Deal Containing Pay Raises and Retirement Boost

County employees ratified an unprecedented five-year contract today, which includes pay raises over the life of the pact, a new holiday honoring Latino Labor leader Cesar Chavez and enhanced retirement and health benefits.

"We are proud of this contract because it provides fiscal stability for both employees and the County, and helps us recruit and retain the best employees possible," said Walt Ekard, County Chief Administrative Officer. "With these long-term contracts in place, the County and its employees can focus all of our energies on out top priorities—continuous improvement of the services we provide to the residents and businesses of San Diego County."

County officials said the deal ratified in a vote by employees—and approved last week by the Board of Supervisors— is the first time in memory that a contract agreement longer than three years with employees.

The new contracts were approved today by Service Employees International Union Locals 2028 and 535, and the Deputy County Counsels Association, which together represent about 12,000 of the County's nearly 18,000 employees. SEIU 2028 includes clerical and general workers, along with probation officers, while SEIU 535 represents social workers. Employees in the three groups will receive 17 to 21 percent in raises over the next five years.

County officials also announced today they have reached agreement with the Deputy Sheriff's Association and District Attorney investigators on four-year extensions to their three-year contracts which were signed last year.

In addition to the salary increases, employees also accepted a retirement package that will eliminate the current two-tiered retirement system, and provided an optional enhanced retirement plan.

The package approved by employees today also creates a new County holiday, Cesar Chavez' birthday, which will be observed on March 31. The County also will pay a larger share of employee health benefits, to help offset anticipated increases in health insurance premiums.

County clerical workers will received an additional 3½ percent in wage increases over the next two years, and 122 job titles also received additional increases in various amounts. These salary enhancements are intended to make the County more competitive with other employers.

Both the changes in the retirement plan and the new Cesar Chavez holiday must be settled with all employee groups before they become final. The County is still negotiating with two employees groups. Deputy District Attorney and Public Defenders, which together represent more than 500 employees.

"Although contract negotiations are never the most pleasant task we face, negotiators on both sides of the table conducted themselves professionally, and acted in good faith," said Ekard. "Now we can work together to build stronger ties between management and labor, and find ways to collaborate to better serve the public."

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