DOWNEY - The city of Downey has reached an agreement with 93 city employees on a new employment contract that maintains no changes in salary or benefits for existing workers.The deal with the Downey City Employees' Association - Misc. Unit was approved 4-1 by the City Council on Tuesday. Councilman Mario Guerra voted against the contract. The deal covers 114 job positions - 93 of which are currently filled - ranging from assistant planners and public works technicians to computer operators and librarians. Current employees will see no change in pay or benefits, meaning the city will continue paying employees' 8% contribution to CalPERS, the state's public employee retirement system. Employees hired after April 26 will pay their own portion on a "second-tier" plan. New employees will also have only one option for medical coverage: the Kaiser Permanente HMO Medical Plan. The co-pay for the Kaiser plan, for current and future workers, increased from $5 to $10. City officials said the provisions will go into effect after similar agreements are reached with other bargaining units. The contract with the Misc. Unit is retroactive to Nov. 1, 2010 and expires March 31, 2012. "The 17-month contract has been ratified by the Association membership. The intention of this new Agreement is to avoid increased labor costs and to maintain current pay and benefits for existing employees during a period of an uncertain economy," human resources director Irma Youssefieh wrote in a report to the City Council. Guerra was the only council member to comment on the contract on Tuesday. He called the deal "premature" because the city is still negotiating a budget that will probably include a deficit entering the next fiscal year. "It's kind of like we're buying a house and we don't know if we have a job," Guerra said. He also expressed skepticism that the contracts can be afforded long term. "What does (the contract) cost? Can we afford it? Where does the money come from," Guerra asked. "Without knowing the long-term liabilities, this is premature to me." The council was set to decide on a similar deal for executive and mid-management, but that item was pulled from the agenda by city manager Jerry Caton before a vote.
********** Published: April 28, 2011 - Volume 10 - Issue 2