Negotiators for Santa Ana city employees have reached a tentative accord with the city that would boost salaries by about 9.5% by July, a source said, and give workers an extra holiday each year.
Union members will vote on the two-year contract offer tonight.
The employees association--a local of the AFL-CIO-affiliated Service Employees International Union (SEIU)--represents general-service workers such as clerks, typists, engineers, inspectors and maintenance workers. Police and fire employees are represented by their own groups.
Of the 761 employees who would be affected by the contract, about 500 are union members. If they ratify the contract, they would be the first of three employee groups--police and fire employees make up the others--to settle with the city since contract talks began in the summer
Tuesday night, city representatives and the Police Benevolent Assn. (PBA) resumed talks in a bid to settle the most politicized of these three contract talks, with some City Council members trying to align themselves with the police. But PBA President Donald Blankenship called the city's latest offer of a 4.5% pay increase this fiscal year and 5% next year "insulting."
The city's previous offer was 4.5% and 4%, but the police union is asking for increases of 11.9% for officers and 16.9% for sergeants.
"We told them we don't want to have any further meetings until they are authorized to move off this," Blankenship said. "We don't want to waste anybody's time."
Retroactive Pay Hike
Fred Lowe, director of the Orange County Public Employee Council--which represents SEIU members who work for the county, Costa Mesa and Anaheim, in addition to Santa Ana--said he could not reveal details of the contract offered to service employees until the union membership had voted.
But a source close to the negotiations said the contract calls for a 4.5% pay increase retroactive to July 1 and a 5% increase beginning July 1, 1988, making the total 9.5%.
City employees would also receive a holiday on Martin Luther King Jr. Day, the source said, and the accord would allow union members to hold an election to determine whether the city may become an "agency shop."
If the membership votes for an agency shop, then all city employees in categories represented by the union must either join the union and pay dues or pay service fees to the union. In some agency shops, people who object on religious grounds to paying dues or fees to the union may instead make contributions to charity.
The contract also includes a provision that would reopen negotiations if police or fire employees negotiate bigger pay increases than the service employees.
Lowe said the contract represented "a very good first step," even though the association did not get everything it wanted. "I think that will be reflected in the ratification vote," he said.