Back in September, the Kern County bargaining team and Kern County presented their cases to a third party, a fact finder.
Last week, the neutral fact finder submitted a compromise between our position and the Board of Supervisors. In it, the county would get what it wants on medical premiums, phased in over two years. It wouldn’t get what it wanted on retirement contributions. He supported three of our proposals, and rejected four. Among the three he supported was binding arbitration on grievances. The membership, in a meeting held on Oct. 29, supported moving forward with the compromise. The Board of Supervisors decided on Tuesday to not support it.
We hope they’ll change their minds.
For details of the compromise, see the summary below written by our chapter president, Regina Kane. You can also read the full report (17-page PDF).
SEIU 521 received the fact finder’s report on Oct. 27. Here is the condensed version.
In the report the fact finder stated, his task was to take the facts presented by SEIU 521 and Kern County and “use them as a framework on which to craft recommendations that will assist in resolution of the impasse.”
Term and Re-openers: He found that the length of contract from July 1, 2010 to June 30, 2015 is appropriate, which makes a three and half year contract from now to mid-2015. SEIU 521 can request a salary re-opener on July 1 of each year. The fact finder also agreed with SEIU 521’s proposal for reopeners on two non-salary contract provisions by either the union or the county each remaining year of the contract.
Health Benefits: The finding is for employees who don’t already pay a share of medical to begin paying 10 percent of the premium when the MOU is ratified and the full 20 percent one year later. SEIU will request a period of open enrollment, if this proposal is ratified by the members. The fact finder reported that other county governments in California are requiring employees to contribute to health benefits.
Retirement: The fact finder proposed that NO CHANGE be made to the current retirement structure. He stated SEIU 521 has changed retirement benefits in 2004 and in a few years those who are currently not paying will retire, leaving a workforce who is already paying their own retirement contribution. He stated that he is “unaware of any trend in the California public sector to change the share of the employee retirement contribution.” He stated the county gave no plausible financial reason for the change and their argument of retirement fund stability was not validated by the KCERA actuarial report.
SEIU 521 Proposals
Binding Arbitration: The fact finder RECOMMENDED that the MOU be modified to include binding arbitration for grievances, instead of advisory arbitration.
Maintenance of Membership: The fact finder recommended that SEIU 521 have a clause in the MOU requiring members to stay members for the length of the contract. Members will be permitted to drop their membership at specified times during the contract.
Breaks: The fact finder recommended that language be included in the MOU similar to, “whenever feasible, employees will receive a 15-minute rest break for each four consecutive hours worked.”
Regina Kane, BSN
Kern County Chapter President, SEIU Local 521