Union Speaks Out On Unresolved Negotiations at City Council Meeting

AFSCME members spoke out on negotiations regarding pay rates and paid leave at the Dec. 8 Cerritos City Council Meeting.

On Dec. 8, the Cerritos City Council met and faced public comments from members of AFSCME District Council 36 Local 619.

According to a press release issued that day, by American Federation of State County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME), the Public Employments Relations Board issued five unfair labor practice charges to the City of Cerritos.

Public Comments - AFSCME

According to the press release, “City negotiators have once again arbitrarily and prematurely called an end to bargaining over new contract terms for Part-Time City Employees, refusing to meet with Union negotiators, or even to respond to their counter-offers. Instead, the City has walked away from the bargaining table.”

The press release goes on to say that the city is trying to force a 7 percent pay cut on part-time employees. On Nov. 22, city negotiators delivered its Last, Best and Final Offer.

According to Gary Guthman, the union negotiator for part-time employees, the Last, Best and Final Offer entailed a one-year contract with a 7 percent pay cut for all part-time staff no matter how long they've worked with the city. Employee input was not considered and an impasse was declared.

“We have three tiers of part-time wages now, and the city's current proposal, I believe, is proposing a fourth tier,” Guthman said. “Salaries for the beginning rates would go under $9 an hour.”

Guthman said the bargaining team decided to offer a compromise that maintains current wages while agreeing to lower new hire rates to which city negotiations have yet to respond.

Also speaking on behalf of AFSCME, John Nieto urged the council to show some recognition to the part-time employees who have been with Cerritos for a significant amount of years.

“What's right is that an employee who has worked here, even if he is a part-time employee, or she is a part-time employee, they worked here for 20 or 30 years, most people would think they deserve something,” Nieto said. “The something might be one day off a year or two or a day and a half.”

City Manager Art Gallucci said the city appreciates its hourly employees and what they do. He continued by comparing statistics on how much Cerritos city employees are paid compared to other regional cities. Cerritos ranks high, if not the highest, in senior lifeguards, senior center specialists, secretary receptionists, library pages, school crossing guards, parking enforcement, account clerks and library assistants.

Denise Magoogian, the city's Director of Administrative Services, tried to shed light on the subject of part-time employees paying for their own Public Employee Retirement System (PERS) – as brought up by that evenings public comments - by explaining that part-time employees are put in a 7 percent higher salary schedule than full-time employees, while being asked to pay for their own PERS. This offsets any difference in what full-time employees would be paying.

In Other News

The council approved reports for Fiscal Year 2010-2011 and the Annual Report of the Cerritos Redevelopment Agency for Fiscal Year 2010-2011. Delivering the fiscal report was Kenneth Pun, a partner with the accounting firm Caporicci & Larson. Mayor Carol Chen was pleased with the city's “clean bill of health.”

The next city council meeting will be held on Jan. 12.

Dennis December 14, 2011 at 05:08 PM
To the Council: Stick to your guns! I frequently come into contact with city staff. Our city employees are the best and I as a taxpayer support them for the courteous and hard work they do. Nevertheless, they have chosen to work for the city and the city as offered them a position whether full or part time. They have a job. To the Union: When the private sector jobs are more difficult to find and salaries and benefits are being reduced, city workers and their unions should recognize that economies are necessary. Stop bellyaching.
Katherine George Chu December 14, 2011 at 05:22 PM
With the economy the way it is, there have been many sacrifices the city and most of us have made to stay afloat. My concern is that the city's Adaptive Programs are run by part-time staffers. Our kids with disabilities enjoy these programs. It takes a certain level of skill and patience to staff this program. By not offering a comparable wage, such as what respite workers or classroom aides receive, I feel that the city will not be able to maintain the same level of quality staff currently filling these positions. I hope that the AFSCME and the city can negotiate an offer that's competitive with other cities. Many of the part-timers who staff the Special Olympics competitions and Adaptive activities have some interest or skills that benefit working with our children. By offering a low hourly rate, the type of staff will not be the same and there will not be any incentive for staff to fill these positions. Please keep us updated on any news from these negotiations.


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