Wednesday, October 1, 2014
YOLO COUNTY NEWS
99 CENTS

Now is not the time to go wobbly

RichRifkinW

By
From page A6 | December 05, 2012 |

If breaking a deadline in Davis were taken literally, ours would be a sanguinary city. Fortunately, we live in figurative times.

On July 1, the “deadline” for new labor agreements for city employees came and went. Seemingly every time a contract has come due in Davis in the past decade, even when the City Council was giving away the store, the deadlines have been missed.

All the old contracts expired the last day of June. But those deals — ones the city manager and the council concede are unsustainable — live on. Their terms remain operative until new accords are agreed to or an impasse is reached and the council imposes its last, best and final offer.

Three weeks ago, the City Council unanimously approved a new contract with the police management employees. There remain seven more bargaining units, representing 98 percent of the city’s workforce, without new deals.

A fear expressed to me by two members of the council is that their colleagues may go wobbly. The unions are not budging, not accepting the compromises necessary to allow the city’s expenses to match its revenues. And they worry there may not be a majority on this council willing to declare an impasse and impose terms.

Instead, the majority prefers to wait. But waiting comes with real risks.

The fiscal year will be half over in a few weeks. In its adopted 2012-13 budget, the City Council assumed we would achieve $4 million in savings under new, more cost-conscious terms in the reformed labor contracts. Davis needed to reduce expenses by that much to balance its budget.

As long as the old terms remain in place, there are no savings. Come New Year’s Day, the city will have spent roughly $2 million more on its employees than it had budgeted this fiscal year, because everyone but the six in police management is still working under expired deals.

One reason some on this City Council may be apprehensive about trying to impose terms on the city’s workers is the experience of the previous council.

On Dec. 4, 2009, Davis declared an impasse with the Davis City Employees Association after eight months of fruitless contract negotiations. The DCEA membership voted to reject the city’s last, best and final offer on Dec. 17.

A city ordinance and state law set forth procedures that the two parties had to follow before the city could legally impose terms. Over the following six months, those procedures were slowly playing out.

However, the city felt that the DCEA was not cooperating. On May 14, 2010, in a fit of pique, Davis unilaterally decided that the required “fact-finding” process was over and that the council could impose its last, best and final offer. It did so 11 days later.

Unfortunately, the council got bad advice from its attorneys. Davis had no lawful right to unilaterally end the process.

Shawn P. Cloughesy, the chief administrative law judge for the Public Employee Relations Board, ruled in October 2011 that Davis had violated its own ordinance and various sections of state law. As a consequence, the terms of the DCEA’s previous contract, dating back to 2005, were put in place, and the city was required to repay the members of that union roughly $800,000 they had lost under the imposed conditions.

It is that costly misadventure that appears to be weighing heavily on this council.

In the meantime, none of the seven employee groups without contracts has a strong incentive to accept a new deal that reduces the amounts their members are getting under the old agreements. Short of mass layoffs, the workers who hold out the longest probably will suffer the fewest consequences.

So the employees prefer to wait.

What is unclear, because the negotiations are conducted in closed session and everyone is sworn to secrecy, is exactly what the City Council is now offering. The best hint comes from the terms that the police management group — one assistant chief, one captain and four lieutenants — agreed to.

The most important change is a gradual reduction in cafeteria cash-outs. Employees whose medical plans cost less per year than a fixed cap — now $20,000 — can currently cash-out that “savings” for as much as $18,000 on top of their salaries. By 2015-16, the cash-out will itself be capped at $6,000 per year per employee.

Other significant modifications include reducing the city’s medical inflation risk, requiring the employees to pay more toward funding their pensions and, if the Davis Police Officers Association agrees to it, cutting back a bit on the retiree health benefit.

The police management contract also comes with a 5.1 percent pay hike. The assistant police chief, for example, was earning a $138,700 salary under the previous MOU. By 2014-15, he will make $7,100 more.

The hope behind these changes is that the city will be able to better manage its future costs. But it’s unclear to me whether this contract succeeds even in that. It reduces some costs. It does not tie the annual growth in total compensation to the growth in city revenues.

With medical premiums going up 10 percent per year and with CalPERS requiring Davis to pay millions more to fund employee pensions, I don’t see how this gets us on a sustainable path.

Even worse, if the council goes wobbly with the other labor groups, huge cuts in city services might be needed this year to fill in the hole in the budget caused by the delay in achieving new contracts.

— Rich Rifkin is a Davis resident; his column is published every other week. Reach him at Lxartist@yahoo.com 

Comments

comments

.

News

Jury: Marsh legally sane during murders

By Lauren Keene | From Page: A1 | Gallery

 
Undocumented Student Center offers help to immigrants

By Julia Ann Easley | From Page: A1 | Gallery

Rairdan supports more inquiry-based learning

By Jeff Hudson | From Page: A1 | Gallery

 
Standing In: Don’t write? I may as well stop breathing

By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A2

 
Woodland man convicted in domestic violence case

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A2

Apply soon to be a Master Gardener

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A2

 
‘Edible City’ discussion planned

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A3

 
TSA bomb training may be noisy

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A3

Katehi will address Rotarians on Monday

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A3

 
Mondavi Center hosts all-star lineup of classical, jazz, dance and more

By Enterprise staff | From Page: C3 | Gallery

Willett students sensitized to those who are different

By Maria Clayton | From Page: A3 | Gallery

 
Friends of the Library host biggest book sale of the year

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A3

Give blood and get a free movie ticket

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A3

 
Pedal around Davis on weekly bike ride

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A3

 
AIM testing dates set this fall, winter

By Jeff Hudson | From Page: A4

Tour Honey Bee Haven on Friday

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A4

 
Woodland City Cemetery tours planned

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A4

 
 
‘ADHD — Myth or Reality’ addressed at UCD talk

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A4

Quotes from the Marsh double-murder trial

By Lauren Keene | From Page: A5 | Gallery

 
UCD athletics have break-from-work entertainment for everyone

By Bruce Gallaudet | From Page: C5 | Gallery

Quad abuzz with students

By Tanya Perez | From Page: A7 | Gallery

 
Wetlands visitors may see ducks arriving

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A10 | Gallery

Boy Scouts host family event in park

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A10

 
How did the Aggies get their name?

By Enterprise staff | From Page: C12

.

Forum

Hey, it’s free childcare …

By Creators Syndicate | From Page: B5

 
Will you open your heart, and your home?

By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A6

 
The right vote for education

By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A6

Just what Davis schools need

By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A6

 
Tom Meyer cartoon

By Debbie Davis | From Page: A6

Nolan’s a calm voice of reason

By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A6

 
.

Sports

DHS girls tennis team tames Lions

By Enterprise staff | From Page: B1 | Gallery

 
Devil girls play dynamite pool defense

By Spencer Ault | From Page: B1 | Gallery

Davis volleyballers finish strong at Franklin

By Enterprise staff | From Page: B1

 
Hard-working Blue Devil boys get a water polo win

By Spencer Ault | From Page: B1 | Gallery

A’s fall as AL wild-card game lives up to its name

By The Associated Press | From Page: B1 | Gallery

 
Legacy roundup: Milliennium takes Manteca tournament

By Enterprise staff | From Page: B2

AYSO roundup: Beans, Capay can’t shake each other in U19 play

By Enterprise staff | From Page: B2 | Gallery

 
Alliance roundup: Los Azules, Italia win tourneys

By Enterprise staff | From Page: B3 | Gallery

Sports briefs: Real Salt Lake has too much for Republic

By Enterprise staff | From Page: B8

 
.

Features

From the ground up: Rediscovering classic cheesecake

By Ann Evans | From Page: A10 | Gallery

 
.

Business

.

Obituaries

Leonard D. Blackford

By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A4

 
Anne Elizabeth Elbrecht

By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A4

.

Comics

Comics: Wednesday, October 1, 2014

By Creator | From Page: A8