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Contract Update – Media Wars

So the City has posted on their website their response to the negotiations so far….

Which is funny because they haven’t told us any of this yet.

Lets take a look at what they do say, and I’m going to start with their last line first just to make something clear:

Additional negotiation meetings are anticipated with each of the AFSCME bargaining units.

Yes, additional meetings would be nice. There’s been a total of two so far, neither of which were anything more than us presenting our proposed contract to them. We’ve been waiting, are still waiting, for Management to set meetings for the next round of talks. Supposedly we are waiting on the results of an Executive Session with the Commission, but none of the Commissioner’s we’ve talked to know anything about any Executive Session.

Then back to the beginning for a point-by-point:

Currently the City is analyzing and costing out proposals regarding pension changes, health care contributions, salaries, merit pay increases and sick leave accrual payouts.

Funny, you would think they could have had this information done and ready before the meetings were even scheduled. It’s not like we surprised them or anything.

The City has indicated to AFSCME that it is seeking to have all employees on the same pension plan and with consistently priced health insurance benefits (employees whose salaries and benefits are paid out of Enterprise Funds were not impacted by the pension reforms or salary and benefit changes put in place under Financial Urgency).

By pointing out the Enterprise Funded employees the implication is the consistency they are seeking to bring everyone to the lowest level.

The City has offered flexible spending accounts to all employees to help offset increases in the cost of health insurance co-pays:  $200 for employee only, $300 for employee plus one dependent, $500 for employee plus multiple dependents.

Sounds neat. But….. there is no such thing as a free lunch so where is this money coming from?

To help cover the cost of wage or benefit increases for AFSCME employees, the City is considering the savings that are expected from the transition from a City-operated emergency 911 system to a regional emergency 911 system.

Again, sounds nice, but there is still no free lunch. Those employees are still getting paid, and there aren’t that many of them overall, so how much can this really represent as far as funding options?

The City has stated its goal for employee salaries is to be at the mid-point of the salary scale when compared to similarly sized cities in this region.  The City has engaged Evergreen Solutions to conduct a compensation study for both the Supervisory and Professional Bargaining Units.

And? This survey is expected to take nine months or more so did Management just admit they are going to force the negotiations to impasse? Did they just admit they aren’t going to negotiate with their employees in good faith?

And that brings us back to the end….

Additional negotiation meetings are anticipated with each of the AFSCME bargaining units.

All in all we have an example of the City trying to control the information, to control the spin to borrow the terms of the national media.

Stay tuned, we’ll share more as there is more to share.


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