SAN DIEGO, CA – The city’s six labor unions have agreed to a fourth consecutive year without an across-the-board pay increase for their workers, a streak that could stretch to nine years because of a pension reform initiative overwhelmingly approved by voters earlier this month.
The City Council voted 6-1 Monday to approve the one-year labor pacts for each union, with Councilman Carl DeMaio dissenting and Councilwoman Marti Emerald absent.
DeMaio, who is running for mayor, objected to the contracts because he said they continue to include such things as step salary increases based on tenure rather than performance and bonus specialty pay for workers based on degrees or certifications that they’re required to have. It’s the third year he’s been the lone vote against labor deals negotiated by Mayor Jerry Sanders.
“My standard has always been are we moving the ball forward for taxpayers,” DeMaio said. “… Each year though I have to evaluate from the baseline of ‘Are we making progress?’ And I have voted against labor contracts that do not make enough progress, that continue certain policies that we just don’t see in the local labor market.”
None of the city’s unions have negotiated increases for their workers since some agreed to — and some had imposed on them — contracts that called for a 6 percent compensation cut in 2009. That cut, which saved the struggling city $30 million annually, has been carried forward in each subsequent labor deal. Workers can still receive raises through step increases or promotions, but there’s been no across-the-board hikes.
Hope for future increases doesn’t look good either. Voters recently approved Proposition B which has a provision that calls for the city to propose in labor negotiations a freeze on each worker’s pensionable pay for the next five years. Unions have already mounted a legal challenge because they say such a mandate violates state labor law.