Archive » November 30, 2007
Supervisors still negotiating with union
By Irene Jones, Staff Writer
More than 500 Santa Barbara County social service and eligibility workers were left without a contract this week as members refused to ratify a new pact offered by the Santa Barbara County Supervisors. Other unions accepted the offer and their three-year contracts were approved during the county board meeting Tuesday.
Two unions, after months of negotiations between the county and union representatives, received a unanimous approval for contracts from the county supervisors. The groups, the Service Employees International Union, Local 620, the county’s largest union with 2,109 members working in almost all county departments, and the 158-member Engineers and Technicians Association, covering employees in public works, public health, planning and development, fire, sheriff, clerk-recorder-assessor, parks, and general services, had almost identical contracts and pay raises, which, on the average, total nine percent, to be paid over the next three years.
The third contract, for SEIU Locals 721 and 535, had equivalent terms, but was not ratified by the membership. There was no word as to when union negotiators and the county would return to the bargaining table.
A union rally last October called for the employees, who include career employment specialists, probation assistants, public defender investigators and medical service representatives, to petition the county supervisors for a fair contract.
The group has been without a contract since the first week in October. At the last bargaining meeting, county management remarked that union demands were “grossly out of the ballpark.” In response, one child welfare worker said, “What they’re offering is not even worth an extra gallon of milk a month.”
The Santa Barbara County contracts approved included cost of living adjustments, a floating holiday, increased contributions from the county for retirement, a benefit allowance, and added contributions to pension funds, which will total more than $3 million.
The engineering group’s contract included close to $2 million in benefits and increased salaries, according to Susan Paul, county human resources director.