With fiscal deficits looming on Palo Alto's horizon, pay freezes have become the new normal for the city's largest workers union…
The council and the union clashed over the benefit reductions in 2009, at which time the union staged a one-day strike (members called it a "self-imposed furlough") and a protest at City Hall. In October 2009, after negotiations between management and the union had hit an impasse, the council imposed the new conditions on SEIU members."
"SEIU agreed on a contract last year and in May the union voted to ratify a one-year extension of the contract. The new agreement includes a pay freeze; an employee contribution of 5.75 percent toward pensions; a second tier for pension calculations that would be applied to new employees; elimination of two floating holidays; elimination of tuition reimbursement and a requirement for employees to pitch in for their medical costs…
Meanwhile, the city continues to square off with its main firefighters union. The two sides began their contract negotiations in May 2010 and could not reach an agreement. The dispute is scheduled to go to arbitration this fall. The council also agreed last week to place on the November ballot a measure that would eliminate binding-arbitration from the City Charter.
Palo Alto officials are expecting budget deficits of close to $7 million in each of the next two fiscal years, largely because of sharp increases in pension and health-care costs. The city's current budget, which the council approved last month, assumes $4.3 million in concessions from the police and firefighter unions."
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