The Other Side of the Story from Inyo County Employees Association (press release)
Inyo County Employees Association Local 315 (ICEA) would like to share our perspective on the history of recent salary increases and the current discussions about County budget cuts. As the bargaining representative for the majority of Inyo County Employees, ICEA participated in negotiations last fall which resulted in wage increases for employees in the lower and middle ranges of the county wage structure.
To begin with, it is a fact that eighty one percent of County ICEA-represented employees received an average equity increase of $2.01 per hour. Many of these employees were severely under the prevailing wage for their classification, and some lower-wage workers were forced to have multiple jobs to make ends meet for their families. Nineteen percent of ICEA-represented employees saw no equity adjustments. It is also true that ICEA-represented employees have and will see a 2 percent cost of living adjustment (COLA) for each of three years. For nineteen percent of ICEA represented employees, this average $.52 COLA once per year is all they will receive. ICEA represented employees received no COLA increases at all during the previous contract. And now, the other side of the story.
At the first negotiation meeting, County Administration presented what is now our contract as its last, best and final offer and told ICEA negotiators that unless this offer was approved by members, subsequent offer(s) would not be as generous. ICEA members understood there was money earmarked for equity and annual COLA adjustments. ICEA members were not given clear information that the only earmarked funds were for fiscal year 2013/14. Having that information could have swayed a non-approval vote if employees were aware other employee jobs and community services would be in jeopardy without a secured funding source. ICEA members voted to accept the offer in October 2013.
With the ICEA contract in hand, County Administration took the deal to the Board of Supervisors (BOS) on October 15, 2013 for approval. At the same meeting, County Administration gained BOS approval for appointed staff to receive an average wage increase of $3.07 per hour. The eleven appointed administration positions are entitled to administration leave of an average of two weeks per year that are in addition to standard employment leave benefits. Most of these eleven appointed positions enjoy county paid cell phone, county paid and home garaged vehicles and generous severance packages with an average of six months’ pay after work for the county stops. Ninety seven percent of 36 non-represented administration employees gained equity adjustments of eight percent while only one position, or three percent, received no equity adjustment. The entire group was also given a three year two percent COLA. Four of these positions salaries were increased by over $20,000 per year.
The ICEA contract proposed by County Administrators escorted a lucrative equity adjustment deal for appointed administration and non-represented Administration staff. County Administration is now implementing reductions in community services and seeking to eliminate 16-20 ICEA represented positions to fix their “Structural Deficit” if staff do not come up with enough savings through “Service Redesign”.
The Inyo County Employees Association (ICEA Local 315) represents employees of Inyo County and Inyo County Superior Court. As part of the American Federation of State County and Municipal Employees, a national union with more than 1.6 million active and retired members, ICEA strengthens the voices of local public employees to enable us to better advocate for our families and our communities. ICEA is governed by a constitution and an elected Executive Board.