Palo Alto workers ratify new contract with City

Palo Alto Council

Palo Alto city workers packed council chambers Jan. 13, 2014 to raise concerns about the city’s hiring and retention crisis.

The City of Palo Alto and workers represented by SEIU Local 521 have agreed on a new contract that provides workers some relief after years of cuts.

The contract with city workers had expired on Dec. 1, 2013. After months of protracted negotiations, the city offered a “last, best and final proposal” and declared an “impasse” on January 7, 2014. City and union negotiating teams came back to the table and negotiated a deal that was ultimately ratified by workers.

“This contract provides city workers with some immediate relief, but I doubt the wage realignments and cost-of-living adjustments will be enough to reverse Palo Alto’s current staffing and retention crisis,” said Margaret Adkins, SEIU Local 521 Palo Alto chapter chairperson. “But, it is a step in the right direction.”

This agreement was voted on and ratified by a majority of workers on Tuesday, March 4. The agreement includes:

  • Cost-of-living adjustment of 4.5% (2% when contract is ratified by city council and an additional 2.5% on December 1, 2014.)

  • Wage realignments (effective immediately upon ratification by city council) for some workers whose pay was below the market median.

  • And increase in the employer’s contribution toward healthcare in second year of contract to partially offset future increases in healthcare costs.

The union also fought off the attempts by the city that would have made it more difficult for workers to take bereavement leave to mourn the passing of a family member, and defeated an attempt by the city to increase the amount of time that disciplinary actions stay in an employee’s personnel file.

Media Coverage:

Palo Alto union members to get 4.5 percent raise under new agreement, Palo Alto Daily News, Mar. 5, 2014

Palo Alto reaches labor deal with largest union, Palo Alto Weekly, Mar. 5, 2014

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