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Pleasanton Council gives thumbs up to new $2.45 million firefighters contract

Agreement, to be ratified Feb. 3, provides 3% raises in each of next 4 years

With the clock approaching 10 p.m. and only two men -- both firemen -- left in the room, the Pleasanton City Council Tuesday night tentatively approved a new 3-1/2-year contract with unionized firefighters in the Livermore-Pleasanton Fire Department that provides 3% pay increases each year over the next four years.

Last night's discussion was officially labeled an "Introduction of Proposed Memorandum of Understanding" between the cities of Pleasanton and Livermore, the joint powers operating authority, and the International Association of Firefighters, Local 1974.

Although the four-member council, with Mayor Jerry Thorne in Washington, D.C., absent, gave its thumbs up to the agreement, the contract's official consideration by Pleasanton and Livermore will come next month.

The contract covers all employees of the department through fiscal year 2017/2018 at a cost of $4.9 million, to be shared by the two cities. Pleasanton's share will be $2.45 million.

As part of the proposed agreement, union members also will increase payment of their pension contributions by an additional 3% during the term of the contract, for a total contribution of 12% at the end of the 3-1/2-year agreement.

The contract, negotiated over the last six months, covers a total of 104 sworn fire personnel, and replaces an earlier contract that expired last June 30. The portion of Pleasanton's obligation for the current fiscal year, which ends June 30, is approximately $170,000 in unbudgeted costs, which will be paid out of the city's General Fund.

In her presentation to the council Tuesday, Julie Yuan-Miu, assistant city manager and the chief negotiator during the extended contract deliberations, said the Memorandum being discussed followed the city's practice of introducing the key elements of a new contract in order to receive input from the public and allow for open discussion prior to adopting the agreement, which the council is expected to do Feb. 3.

Even so, except for the two firemen, there were no speakers to address the council on the new contract.

The Memorandum was reviewed and ratified by the IAFF membership last month. The Livermore City Council will review the Memorandum at its meeting next Monday night.

The new contract, which will be retroactive to last July 1, replaces the previous two-year contract in effect from Jan. 1, 2012, to last June 30. Because of the recession at the time that contract was written, there were no cost-of-living (COLA) adjustments included.

However, that contract called for all employee groups, including firefighters, to start contributing 9% of their salaries to the CalPERS retirement program, and implemented a reduced retiree medical program for new employees.

The new contract, effective from July 1, 2014 to June 30, 2018, will provide 1% COLA increases starting this month, again in July, and then again on July 1 of 2016 and 2017.

Unionized members of the fire department will begin paying 10-1/2% of their salaries toward retirement with "classic" employees who are not in the union to start paying 12% by 2017.

Council members endorsed the new contract without actually voting on it.

"This is a good and fair contract," said Councilwoman Kathy Narum. "It also recognizes that firefighters had no wage adjustment in their last contract when they stepped up and helped us in a tough (economic) situation."

Vice Mayor Karla Brown agreed.

"I understand the value that our fire department brings to citizens," she said. "This (contract) is a win-win for everybody."

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