Antioch manager says City faces “massive layoffs” in police and Code Enforcement if Measure C isn’t extended, new contracts not finalized

But, City Attorney says legal and financial ramifications if changes in contracts are attempted by new council

By Allen Payton

Last week the Antioch City Council voted unanimously to give all city staff increases in pay and benefits for the next five years. This week, City Manager Steve Duran admitted that if the city’s half-cent sales tax, known as Measure C, isn’t renewed four years from now, the city will face “massive layoffs” in police and Code Enforcement.

Duran responded to questions to him and the council members, about the new contracts and their timing after the election, even though all but one had expired prior to the election.

In an email Duran wrote, “Contract negotiations are very complex and time consuming. They took how long they took. It’s not unusual in any city for labor negotiations to go beyond the term of the existing agreements.”

He then provided an answer to the question of what the council’s plans are should Measure C not be renewed or if the city’s revenue hasn’t increased enough by then to cover the amount received from Measure C.

“As for the impacts of the new labor agreements on the City’s finances, the increases are pretty close to what we projected in our last budget and amount to a very small impact compared to the projected annual Measure C revenue of $7 million an year,” he responded. “The bottom line is that if Measure C is not extended, massive cuts will again have to be made to staffing, especially Police and Code Enforcement because that is where we have made significant increases in staffing since the passage of Measure C.”

The contracts approved by the Council are only tentative and won’t be finalized until early next year.

In the staff report on the contracts, it states, “If the City Council adopts the Tentative Agreement, the parties will continue to prepare an MOU to memorialize and replace the Tentative Agreement. The existing MOU will continue as modified by the terms of the Tentative Agreement until the MOU is completed. When completed, the MOU will be submitted to City Council for approval and adoption.”

When asked when the MOU’s would be placed on a Council agenda for a vote, Nickie Mastay, the City’s Administrative Services Director, wrote, “This will be a January – February timeframe. Since there are five Memorandums of Understanding, we are continuing to confer with the unions to ensure accuracy of the Memorandums of Understanding.”

Asked if a new council majority could renegotiate the contracts to reduce their length to three or four years, or if they have to just vote down the MOU’s, City Attorney Michael Vigilia said, “That’s something they can certainly discuss with their labor negotiators. I don’t know. I’ll have to look at the MOU a little closer. Usually, if you want to reopen the negotiations it’s because there’s been a change. Perhaps new council members would be considered a change.”

“That’s really more of a policy issue. There’s not really a legal issue,” he continued. “I can’t think of any legal issues off the top of my head. We’ll cross that bridge and deal with legal issues if there’s a council policy.”

“It’s something that labor negotiators would have to take up in closed session,” Vigilia stated. “New council members have the prerogative to say what they want about the MOU’s. If they can get a third council member to go along with them, then we would talk with the labor negotiators.”

“There are all sorts of policy issues that need to be worked through. It’s really more of a policy thing,” he added.

UPDATE: However, in emails received later, Vigilia backpedaled on his earlier comments.

“To follow up on our conversation…while it’s true that this is primarily a policy issue, there are also significant legal risks associated with a City Council potentially deciding to attempt to re-negotiate a tentative labor agreement that has already been approved by both a union and the City Council,” he said.

Duran also responded with similar comments.

“The tentative agreements contain all business terms that were negotiated in good faith by the parties over many months,” Duran wrote. “They constitute, in writing, the business terms that the MOUs must contain, and have been ratified by the unions and approved by the City Council. Nickie and I have consulted with our professional labor negotiator and our City Attorney on this matter. Trying to change any of the business terms to which the parties have agreed is wrought with rather unpleasant legal and financial dangers to the City.

Vigilia, Duran and Mastay were then asked if since the agreements are tentative and not finalized until the MOU’s are voted on, then how can there be legal ramifications if a new council majority wants to reopen negotiations and do something such as shorten the period?

Vigilia responded with, “To put it simply, the parties have reached a meeting of the minds as to the major terms of the MOU’s and each party has relied on the representations of the other party in deciding to agree to the terms. Once there is a meeting of the minds there is an enforceable legal obligation which would be very risky to break. The City, at the very least, risks breach of contract claims being asserted against it. Additionally, to attempt to renegotiate the terms exposes the City to potential charges of unfair conduct from the Public Employee Relations Board, which enforces collective bargaining laws covering public employees. This exposes the City to potential fines. As Steve and I stated, there are significant legal ramifications.”

The new council member, Lamar Thorpe and possibly a new mayor will begin their terms on Tuesday, December 13 following an oath of office ceremony expected that night. The final vote count in the Mayor’s race is expected to be provided by the County Elections office, tomorrow, Friday, December 3 by 5:00 p.m.

10 Comments to “Antioch manager says City faces “massive layoffs” in police and Code Enforcement if Measure C isn’t extended, new contracts not finalized”

  1. Nancy Fernandez says:

    Next month CalPERS is going to require the cities in California to double their existing payment for pensions. Measure C in any amount will not pull this city out of bankruptcy.

    • Me says:

      Nancy, could you please provide source. You’ve said this a few times but I can’t find anything about it.

      • Marty Fernandez says:

        The source is CalPers themselves and two or three articles in the Chronicle just this week. Yesterday I believe they did an editorial.

  2. RJB says:

    Give them raises and then after that is all and done with …

    Fire and brimstone! Death and destruction! It’s new legal way to rob the good tax paying citizens without a gun.

    Good old Antioch.

  3. Marty Fernandez says:

    FACT IS! This irresponsible council at the direction of Steve Duran has forced this city into bankruptcy which they have been warned about for 4 years. This city should start planning the bankruptcy papers right now. Measure C will not pass again because of the dishonest way it was originally put forward.

    The council will all be gone in 4 years, including our new one/s and the taxpayer is going to be holding the bag and the councils responsible should be held responsible.

  4. Karl dietzel says:

    Next meeting the city council needs to take action.
    1) fire the city manager right away . Not next week, not in a month,
    Right away.
    Antioch can’t afford to have Steve Duran at the helm anymore.
    2) hire a headhunter to find a new city manager.
    3) no promotion from within . No Ron bernal
    4) freeze all salaries , no more raises, no more “reclassification ” of
    5) initiate a independent audit
    6) perform a workload study of the police department .

  5. Frederick Rouse says:

    I have made my views on this entire nightmare available to the Council. In fact, I posted an editorial to this exact issue. This should not be a surprise to anyone. This City is in a downward roll and the Citizens are going to pay for it in the end.

  6. Allen Payton says:

    Please see the update with comments by both Vigilia and Duran from emails received after the article was posted.
    Thank you.
    Allen Payton, Publisher

  7. ABG says:

    The city should look into contracting out some city services, like they do for park maintenance. That can save a lot of money with no decrease in public services.

    Agree on an independent audit. That should be done annually. City government needs to be accountable.

    Tiered water rates should be done away with. There have been a number of lawsuits in California already where it has been decided that they violate Proposition 218 because it’s unconstitutional to charge more than it costs to deliver the service. Tiered rates also unfairly discriminates against homeowners with large yards and pools. Do it before the city loses yet another lawsuit. I want a refund of excess fees paid.

    Use measure C funds to pay the salaries of new officers only! Good luck on getting the public to extend this measure.

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