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Glendale council and union strike a deal

Pact restores pay cut but applies restored amount to retirement benefits.

September 19, 2013|By Brittany Levine, brittany.levine@latimes.com

The City Council struck a deal with Glendale’s largest union this week to reverse a 1.5% pay cut council members imposed on the Glendale City Employees Assn. in 2010.

Although the pay cut for the 750-member union will be lifted, rank-and-file employees have agreed to give an extra 1.5% of their paychecks to cover retirement benefits. Now, GCEA members will pay 11% of their paychecks toward their pensions, rather than 9.5%.

At a Tuesday City Council meeting, officials said both the union and city negotiators worked cooperatively on the contract, a stark change from 2010 when union and city officials butted heads over contract terms. For years, Glendale officials have been pushing for greater pension contributions from employees as rising costs drive multi-million-dollar budget gaps.

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“This year, to have an easy, quick, negotiating process is where we had all hoped we would be,” said Councilwoman Laura Friedman.

In August 2012, city officials fended off a lawsuit for alleged unfair bargaining practices related to the pay cut. A Los Angeles Superior Court judge threw out the case after the state’s Public Employee Relations Board said Glendale may have driven a hard bargain in 2010, but officials had not acted illegally.

There have been no cost-of-living increases for the Glendale City Employees Assn. since 2008 and its membership was one of the hardest hit by sweeping staff cuts in 2012. However, employees continue to benefit from so-called step increases, or automatic wage bumps, if they favorably pass yearly reviews.

While the 11% pension contribution rate is an increase, it is still below other city union rates, such as Glendale Police Officers Assn., members of which contribute 12.5% of their paychecks to cover their retirement benefits.

The new contract comes after the city agreed to memorandums of understanding with the police and management unions in July. The Glendale Fire Fighters Assn. has a multi-year contract while other bargaining groups have one-year agreements. The Glendale Fire Fighters Assn. received scheduled cost-of-living adjustments this year.

Additionally, the council declared an impasse with the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, which represents Glendale Water & Power employees, in May, allowing it to unilaterally cut employees’ pay by 1.75%. Some IBEW members that work at the Grayson Power Plant have asked City Manager Scott Ochoa if they can break off from the bargaining group and form their own union.

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Follow Brittany Levine on Google+ and on Twitter: @brittanylevine.

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