Council Kicked the Can Down the Road

On March 8th, the City Council unanimously passed resolutions approving Letters of Understanding for the Antioch Police Sworn Management Association and the Antioch Police Officers Association (APOA).

As you probably know, both Antioch Police Sworn Management Association and APOA have a 3% at age 50 PERS retirement package vs. a 2.7% at age 55 for almost all other city employees (Pensions are calculated on wages earned during the final year of employment.)

Prior to the current economic woes and the growing unfunded heath and dental benefits for CalPERS state retirees, which as of June 30,2010, grew $8.1 billion from the $51.8 billion obligation identified in the prior year, Antioch employees paid zero toward their PERS retirement benefit. Which is why it was such an important factor in the city’s recent negotiations with all employee groups.

Employees in most units agreed to no raises in 2009, 2010, 2012 and 3% in 2013, in addition to a phase-in of employee share of payment for PERS. Here are some of the specifics of the deal Council cut with the Antioch Police Sworn Management Association and APOA.

The Antioch Police Sworn Management Association agreed to waive wages increases for November 2009, November 2010, March and November of 2011, March and November of 2012. Although waiving November 2013 wage increase, effective the first payroll periods after March 2013, March 2014 and March 2015 salaries are to be increased between 2-6%, the amount of salary increase to be based upon the existing four city survey of Concord, Pittsburg, Richmond and Walnut Creek, the city calculating the salary increase to bring members into second place.

The survey, however, will be limited to wage comparisons and won’t compare employee benefits, e.g. what employees pay into their health care coverage, retirement programs (such as PERS) or if they pay into Social Security. According to City Manager Jim Jakel, city employees are generally not paying into Social Security but do pay what he considers to be the Medicare portion.

The agreement also called for Police Managers to pay the full 9% employee share of PERS over a five-year phase in., extended their MOU to February 28, 2016 and included a Retire/Rehire Program, rather than upping the age of retirement to age 55!

APOA agreed to defer (not waive) the September 2009, September 2010, March 2011 and September 1, 2011 salary increases and begin paying 3% towards PERS as of July 1, 2011. Their concession agreement, however, ends on December 31, 2011, although their existing contract with the city runs till September 2013.

In addition, council granted them 2 extra holidays, meaning more officers will have to work overtime , allowing them to bump up their pensions when they retire. Increased overtime costs also mean less money for additional staffing.

Let’s hope the city has a tougher negotiator in their next round of contract talks with APOA . Frankly I think Council kicked the can down the road and should insist that APOA agree to a phase-in of the full employee share of PERS just as Antioch Police Managers did.

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