Tag: service employees international union
Santa Clara County and its employees represented by the Service Employees International Union Local 521 announced Friday they have reached a tentative, two-year employment agreement that will require the union members to pick up more of the cost of their health and retirement benefits, and also gives them a raise, according to County staff.The key to the preceding negotiations for the new agreement was both the County and its largest union workforce are dedicated to one fundamental principle, according to County staff: “Quality public services come first.”“We value the contributions of County employees,” County Executive Jeffrey Smith said. “This contract includes a modest wage increase, and now employees will be sharing in the cost of health premiums and contributing toward the growing cost of retiree health benefits.”An SEIU Local 521 member who served on the union’s negotiating team said the tentative agreement is an “affirmation that we will continue to put community first.”“We believe we’ve reached a fair agreement that protects vital front-line public services, and we look forward to continuing to work with the County on the challenge of recruiting and retaining a cutting-edge workforce,” said the SEIU member, Karen Smit, a respiratory care practitioner. Highlights of the two-year agreement, according to County staff, include:- Workers will increase their contributions toward retiree health care costs $10 per pay period, or $260 annually in order to strengthen the plan’s sustainability. This contribution will bring in about $2.1 million annually. - New workers will have to work for a minimum of 15 years to qualify for retiree health benefits. Under the previous agreement, those hired would have had to work 10 years to be eligible for the benefit. - To prepare for federal health care reform, the County will collaborate with SEIU 521 to form “unit-based teams” across the County’s Health & Hospital System, ensuring front-line workers have direct input on the improvements that affect patient care. - Employees will share in the cost of health premiums.- To address recruitment and retention concerns, the two lowest steps of union members’ salary schedule will be removed. This will help the County “become competitive in developing a cutting-edge workforce.” - Union members will receive a 5 percent overall wage increase during the agreement - a 2 percent increase in the first year and 3 percent the second year. “We came into negotiations focused on preserving and enhancing quality public services,” said wRen Bradley, chapter president of SEIU Local 521 Santa Clara County. “We knew the only way we could keep Santa Clara County strong was to ensure County services did not suffer. We will continue to do everything we can to develop a cutting-edge workforce, especially as we implement the Affordable Care Act.”SEIU Local 521 represents about 11,000 County employees, according to the union’s website. The tentative agreement will be presented to the five-member County Board of Supervisors for approval Sept. 10.