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Pleasanton council endorses proposed contract with firefighters union

LPFD personnel would get new raises, pay more into pensions

The Pleasanton City Council has voiced its support for a new contract with Livermore-Pleasanton firefighters highlighted by four salary increases over the next 3-1/2 years, along with some union members covering an extra 0.5% of their pension costs starting in mid-2020.

Pleasanton, which partners with Livermore for firefighting services under the Livermore-Pleasanton Fire Department, has a two-step consideration process for its union contracts. After the initial endorsement by the council Tuesday night, the new memorandum of understanding (MOU) is scheduled to return for final approval Jan. 15.

"I just want to congratulate staff and the fire union for coming together and doing a great job in getting this done," Councilman Jerry Pentin said during the 10-minute discussion in the council chambers. "We support our firefighters, who do a great job for us, and hopefully they're as happy with this as we are."

"I think we did a great job of negotiating and I appreciate all that came to the table in good faith," Councilwoman Karla Brown said, adding that the initial upcoming raises are "basically a cost-of-living raise."

The proposed MOU, which would run through December 2021, was ratified by the International Association of Fire Fighters (IAFF), Local 1974 members last month and is set to be debated by the Livermore City Council in the coming weeks.

A successor agreement to the MOU that expired June 30, the new contract would include a series of raises for union members starting with a 3% increase next month, followed by another 3% increase in July, a 3.5% increase in July 2020 and a 1% increase in July 2021.

Another provision would see IAFF Local 1974 members classified as "classic members" for pension purposes (those already in the CalPERS system as of January 2013), contribute an additional 0.5% toward their pension costs for a total of 12.5% overall, starting in July 2020.

In other benefit changes, all active union employees would pay a minimum contribution of $50 per month for family medical coverage starting in January 2020.

The agreement would also allow for extra compensation of $100 per month for employees who voluntarily keep and maintain their paramedic licenses when promoted to the ranks of fire engineer or fire captain -- higher positions for which paramedicine is not considered a core function.

There's new education incentives too, an extra $25 (for $75 total per month) for union members with an associate's degree and an extra $50 ($150 total per month) for those with a bachelor's degree.

Additionally, the MOU includes a variety of language changes considered operational in nature and without cost implications, according to Pleasanton city staff.

In all, the new agreement is estimated to cost an extra $5.5 million across the entire 3-1/2-year term, with Pleasanton's share estimated at $2.8 million for the full term. Pleasanton's additional obligation for the current budget year is about $411,000, to be paid from general fund contingencies.

The union represents 104 LPFD employees in all -- 99 in fire suppression and five in fire prevention.

In other business

* Council members approved the roster of their assignments to 18 council subcommittees and 16 local and regional committees.

Leading the way was the appointment of Brown to serve as vice mayor for 2019. This will be the second turn in the position for Brown, a second-term councilwoman who also served as vice mayor in 2015.

The list featured various assignments for Brown, Pentin, Mayor Jerry Thorne, Councilwoman Kathy Narum and new Councilwoman Julie Testa.

Testa, a longtime advocate on schools issues, said she was disappointed at not being assigned to the Pleasanton Unified School District Liaison Committee and hoped to receive that opportunity in the future. Thorne and Narum were given that assignment, with Brown as alternate.

Council subcommittees include Alameda County Liaison (Brown, Narum), Audit (Narum, Testa), BART Liaison (Narum, Pentin), Bernal Property Financing (Narum, Testa), City Attorney Evaluation and City Manager Evaluation committees (Narum, Thorne), Downtown Specific Plan Update Task Force (Narum, Thorne; Pentin as alternate) and Dublin Liaison (Pentin, Testa).

Other subcommittees are DSRSD Liaison (Brown, Narum), East Bay Parks Liaison (Brown and Pentin, with Narum alternate), Economic Vitality (Testa; Narum alternate), Fair Liaison (Brown, Testa), Legislative Advocacy (Pentin, Thorne), LPFD Joint Powers Authority (Narum, Thorne), Livermore Liaison (Brown, Testa), Waste and Recycling (Brown, Testa) and Zone 7 Liaison (Brown, Narum).

Local and regional assignments include Alameda County Mayors' Conference (Thorne; Brown alternate), Alameda County Transportation Commission (Thorne; Narum alternate), Alameda County Mosquito Abatement District (Narum), Alameda County Waste Management Authority (Pentin; Narum alternate), Altamont Landfill Community Monitor Committee (Testa), Altamont Landfill Open Space Committee (Pentin; Testa alternate) and Association of Bay Area Governments (Testa; Brown alternate).

The other committees are East Bay Economic Development Alliance (Thorne), iGate Board (Thorne), League of California Cities (Thorne; Pentin alternate), Livermore Amador Valley Transit Authority (Brown, Pentin; Narum alternate), Livermore Amador Valley Water Management Agency (Pentin, Testa; Brown alternate), Tri-Valley Affordable Housing Committee (Testa; Brown alternate); Regional Rail Authority (Thorne), Tri-Valley Transportation Council (Narum; Thorne alternate) and TV30 Board (Thorne).

* The council approved a $108,000 contract with HMN Engineers for preliminary design work on the traffic-calming project to add a second left-turn lane from westbound Bernal Avenue to southbound Sunol Boulevard.

The preliminary design work will give city officials a more accurate sense of the right-of-way acquisition required to construct the project, and in turn give them a better sense of overall project costs, for which the city has earmarked $2.75 million, according to City Manager Nelson Fialho.

Testa recused herself from the discussion for owning property too close to the project location.

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