It took just a few minutes Tuesday night for the Pleasanton City Council to ratify a new 3-1/2-year contract with unionized firefighters in the Livermore-Pleasanton Fire Department that provides 3% pay increases each year over the next four years.
There were no speakers in a nearly empty council chamber when the public hearing began with Mayor Jerry Thorne gaveling the hearing to a close almost immediately.
Thorne, who was out of town when the contract was first discussed two weeks ago, was also the only one on the council to talk about the new contract.
"It's a fair contract," Thorne said. "Let's remember that the two groups that honored our city last year specifically said it was for good schools and good public safety n our community. I appreciate the efforts firefighters make to keep us safe."
The contract, known as a Memorandum of Understanding, is between the International Association of Firefighters Local 1974 and the city of Pleasanton.
Since the fire department operates under the Joint Powers Authority of both Pleasanton and the city of Livermore, the City Council, of Livermore also will need to ratify it, probably at a meeting next Monday.
The contract covers all employees of the department through fiscal year 2017/2018 at a cost of $4.9 million, to be shared by the two cities. Pleasanton's share will be $2.45 million.
As part of the proposed agreement, union members also will increase payment of their pension contributions by an additional 3% during the term of the contract, for a total contribution of 12% at the end of the 3-1/2-year agreement.
The contract, negotiated over the last six months, covers a total of 104 sworn fire personnel, and replaces an earlier contract that expired last June 30. The portion of Pleasanton's obligation for the current fiscal year, which ends June 30, is approximately $170,000 in unbudgeted costs, which will be paid out of the city's General Fund.
The new contract will be retroactive to last July 1. It will replace the previous two-year contract in effect from Jan. 1, 2012, to last June 30. Because of the recession at the time that contract was written, there were no cost-of-living (COLA) adjustments included.
However, that contract called for all employee groups, including firefighters, to start contributing 9% of their salaries to the CalPERS retirement program, and implemented a reduced retiree medical program for new employees.
The new contract, effective from July 1, 2014 to June 30, 2018, will provide 1% COLA increases starting this past Jan. 1, again in July, and then again on July 1 of 2016 and 2017.
Unionized members of the fire department will begin paying 10-1/2% of their salaries toward retirement with "classic" employees who are not in the union to start paying 12% by 2017.
Two public hearings on the contract were held in accord with Pleasanton's practice of introducing the key elements of a new contract in order to receive input from the public and allow for open discussion prior to adopting the agreement, which the council did Tuesday night.
Julie Yuan-Miu, Pleasanton's assistant city manager, served as the chief negotiator during the contract deliberations.