Oakland Council OKs Labor Pact; Votes on Wage Hikes Next (1)

From labor disputes cases to labor and employment publications, for your research, you’ll find solutions on Bloomberg Law®. Protect your clients by developing strategies based on Litigation...

By Louis C. LaBrecque

The Oakland City Council approved a new collective bargaining agreement with a union representing about 1,000 of the city’s professional and technical employees.

Council members voted unanimously March 20 to approve the terms of the contract, Ian Appleyard, the city’s human resources director, told Bloomberg Law March 21.

The council will vote again April 17 on an ordinance to implement the contract’s salary provisions, Appleyard said. “Technically, the city council could still disapprove” the salary provisions, but that’s highly unlikely, he said.

“We intend to put everything into place as quickly as possible. This is a done deal,” Appleyard said.

Retroactive Wage Hike

A proposal ratified by union members in February would provide them with a retroactive 4 percent wage hike under the contract, a spokeswoman for Local 21 of the International Federation of Professional and Technical Engineers said.

The increase would be retroactive to July 1, 2017, Jennifer Li, the union spokeswoman, told Bloomberg Law. The wage increase if approved would be reflected in the employees’ April 26 paychecks, she said.

Appleyard said that while employees will see the increase quickly, it will take longer for the city to provide them with retroactive pay.

“Retroactive payments takes several weeks to process,” he said.

The agreement, ratified by union members on Feb. 7, also calls for a 1 percent wage increase in January 2019. That could be increased to 2 percent if the city’s revenues allow for the larger increase, Li said.

The union represents a wide variety of employees, ranging from administrative staff to city attorneys, engineers, and architects, Li said.

Pay Below Market Rate, Union Says

The March 20 council vote means certain parts of the new agreement will go into effect immediately, Li said. These include shift differentials, a uniform allowance, a one-time floating holiday, and professional development provisions.

Local 21 Oakland members will see the floating holiday on their pay slips starting March 29, the union said.

The employees’ salaries currently are about 10 percent below the market rate for nearby communities, Li said. “The city council is moving in the right direction” but needs to do more to address the issue, she said.

The union intends to bring up employee pay again in the next round of bargaining, which will begin before the June 30, 2019, expiration of the new agreement, Li said.

Increases for Select Occupations

In addition to the across-the-board increases provided to all bargaining unit employees, the city will provide additional 4 percent increases to people in certain occupations to address pay disparities, Appleyard said.

Human resources analysts, neighborhood services coordinators, and animal control supervisors are among the occupations that will see the additional increases, he said.

Public employee pensions and retiree health benefits are among the “cost drivers” taking a bite out of Oakland’s budget, Appleyard said.

The California Public Employees’ Pension Reform Act, which went into effect in January 2013, will lead to lower retirement costs down the road, Appleyard said. But the city’s pension costs are expected to increase by about 10 percent per year for the next five years, he said.

Request Labor & Employment on Bloomberg Law