With new information now available from CalPERS about retirement plan funds and a group of individuals asking for a better deal from the Pleasanton city employees union, wouldn’t it make sense to go back to the bargaining table one more time before the Pleasanton City Council signs a pending contract?
The council is due to act on the contract Tuesday night. The PCEA earlier agreed to a two-year wage freeze and to have its members for the first time contribute to their pension plan. The city manager negotiated a 2% contribution, although he, himself, has decided to contribute 8% and department heads and other managers agreed to start contributing 4%.
Since the PCEA union representatives seemed willing to work with the city to ease an unfunded pension liability that now ranges between $121 million and $290 million—and learning now that the CalPERS' financial shortfall is even worse than expected--there’s good reason to think the union would agree to chip in more. That contract, which goes before the council Tuesday night, should go back for reconsideration to raise the contribution to 4%, with the likelihood that all three employee unions—PCEA, the firefighters and police—will move to 8% contributions shortly.
When Councilman Matt Sullivan asked former Councilwoman Kay Ayala what it would take to avoid an initiative effort that some citizens might seek to cut back on employee health and pension benefits, she suggested a two-tier approach to solving the problem. That would make sense, too, and should also be part of renegotiating the PCEA contract and in future negotiations with police and fire, as well. A two-tier benefit plan would not affect those already on the payroll and could go a long way toward gaining a handle eventually on runaway benefit costs all government employees, including Pleasanton’s, are enjoying.