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Santa Ana Workers Approve 2-Year Pact Hiking Wages 9.5%

December 10, 1987|BOB SCHWARTZ | Times Staff Writer

Members of the Santa Ana City Employees Assn. approved a two-year contract Wednesday that boosts salaries 4.5% this year and 5% in 1988 and adds another holiday.

The employees association--a local of the AFL-CIO-affiliated Service Employees International Union or SEIU--represents half the city's workers in categories ranging from entry-level clerical workers to maintenance workers, engineers, planners and code-enforcement inspectors. Police and fire employees are represented by their own groups.

Fred Lowe, director of the Orange County Public Employee Council, which represents SEIU members who work for Santa Ana, Costa Mesa, Anaheim and the county, said local members voted by a 3-1 margin to ratify the contract.

Step Up to 'Big Leagues'

"When the city employees joined the SEIU (in June, 1986), they did that because they felt it was time to step up to the big leagues," Lowe said. "Everybody now feels that decision was the correct one to make. . . . They never want to go back to being third-class citizens behind police and fire."

Police and fire employees have in the past negotiated bigger pay raises than the general service employees. But a "parity pay" provision in the new SEIU contract would automatically reopen negotiations between the union and the city if police or fire employees end up with larger pay increases than the service employees.

Talks between the city and the Police Benevolent Assn. broke down once again Tuesday night when negotiators for the police officers dismissed as "insulting" an offer that included the same basic pay increases extended to the service employees. The police association's demands include pay raises of 11.9% for officers and 16.9% for sergeants, although association president Donald Blankenship has said that at least the first figure is "flexible."

Blankenship said Wednesday that the association will meet today to discuss what, if any, new actions it should take in light of the latest round of unsuccessful talks. Police have picketed the offices and homes of several council members and engaged in work-to-rule actions to protest the lack of negotiations during the past several months, but they stopped such actions before this week's talks began.

Ream 'Optimistic'

City Manager David N. Ream said city negotiators still hope to meet with PBA representatives next week. "We're optimistic that we'll be able to reach a conclusion . . . in the near future," he said.

Ream said he was "very pleased" to have finally reached a settlement with the general service workers. "The contract should prove beneficial to both the employees and the city over the next two years," he said.

The service employees' contract provides for a 4.5% pay raise retroactive to July 1 and a 5% increase beginning July 1, 1988. It also gives the 761 employees covered under the contract a holiday on Martin Luther King Jr.'s birthday in January.

About 200 employees--mostly clerical workers--will get pay increases of up to 15% in addition to the 4.5% and 5% raises, Lowe said, because salaries for their job classifications were determined to be below prevailing market levels.

The contract will cost the city about $3.75 million in additional wages over the next two years, Ream said.

Another provision of the contract will allow union members to vote next year on whether the city should 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, persons who object on religious grounds to paying dues or fees to the union may instead make contributions to charity.

Other provisions of the contract include a city-funded study of the feasibility of providing medical coverage for retirees who never paid into Social Security and the accumulation of up to 80 hours of compensatory time for employees who work overtime.

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