Contract approved to give city employees raises

Posted at 2:49 PM, Dec 08, 2015
and last updated 2015-12-08 17:49:25-05

A four-year contract approved Tuesday by the City Council for many city of San Diego employees includes 3.3 percent pay raises in each of the final two fiscal years.

The agreement, which the 4,000 or so members of the Municipal Employees Association ratified in October, is expected to cost the city $37.7 million total.

Other provisions include pay hikes of 5-7 percent for employees in two dozen classifications with recruiting and retention problems in the fiscal year that begins in July 2018; improvements to flexible benefits; higher uniform allowances; a doubling of tuition reimbursements to $2,000; and increasing discretionary leave from eight to 24 hours. It also adds in-laws, grandparents and grandchildren to the city's bereavement policy.

A provision that would provide 160 hours of parental leave has not been finalized, according to city staff.

"For a decade now, employees have made significant financial sacrifices and concessions, and those sacrifices and concessions helped this city survive the financial crisis and the Great Recession," said Michael Zucchet, general manager of the MEA, which for the most part represents the city's white-collar workers.

He said the San Diego's relatively strong fiscal footing today stems partially from the pay and benefit cuts accepted by employees when the city's finances were in turmoil.

"This contract represents a welcome change from that last decade, and a sort of turning of the corner, and it's significant," Zucchet said.

Councilman Todd Gloria said the city's employees should get a message that they're valued. They have to deal with San Diego's high -- and increasing -- cost of living like everyone else, he said.

The contract passed on an 8-1 vote, with Councilman Scott Sherman dissenting.