News

Pleasanton Council approves new $2.45 million firefighters contract

Agreement provides 3% raises in each of next 4 years

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.

Comments

2 people like this
Posted by Arnold
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Feb 4, 2015 at 7:14 pm

I would like to know if this contract incorporates (A) any side letters (which are really meant to hide contract clauses), or (B) any efforts by the City of Pleasanton to infringe upon the SPIRIT of our Governors pension reform efforts. And by that I mean does this contract incorporate any of the 99 different ways CaLPERS has ignored the Governors pension reform plan? In other words, has the City of Pleasanton incorporated into this contract, for recent/future employees, the ability to include anything beyond base pay, including but not limited to what's referred to "ACTING PAY"?

If any of these 99 different pay categories have been included in "Pensionable Pay", for employees hired after the governor’s pension reform effort, and the costs have not been included in this article, or on the city website, the people approving this contract should be …!

At what point will this city actually provide the real cost increases for the departments they manage. Just saying this contract will increase cost by “X” only tells a fraction of the story - in a very parsed way. I expected better from Jerry T.


Like this comment
Posted by Arnold
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Feb 5, 2015 at 1:23 am


I would like to hear a response from Julie Yuan-Miu, Nelson Fialho, or Jerry Thorne.

I would like to know if this contract incorporates (A) any side letters (which are really meant to hide contract clauses), or (B) any efforts by the City of Pleasanton to infringe upon the SPIRIT of our Governors pension reform efforts. And by that I mean does this contract incorporate any of the 99 different ways CaLPERS has ignored the Governors pension reform plan? In other words, has the City of Pleasanton incorporated into this contract, for recent/future employees, the ability to include anything beyond base pay, including but not limited to what's referred to "ACTING PAY"?

If any of these 99 different pay categories have been included in "Pensionable Pay", for employees hired after the governor's pension reform effort, and the costs have not been included in this article, or on the city website, the people approving this contract should explain why that is.

1) Are their any side letters regarding this contract?

2) If any of these 99 different pay categories have been included in "Pensionable Pay", for employees hired after the governor's pension reform effort I would like to know why.

3) At what point will this city actually scrutinize cost increases for the departments they manage. Just saying this contract will increase cost by "X" only tells a fraction of the story - in a very parsed way.

4) The PD contract - the city of Pleasanton, management, and city council claimed the last/current PD contract only increased cost by X. That was a lie, IMO, and the actual cost was 2X. That contract, because the contract included payouts not mentioned by the CM, or included in the cost presented by city staff, or even mentioned by the Pleasanton Weekly, cost the City of Pleasanton twice what Nelson claimed (IMO).

This FD contract is no different, maybe even much worse, and way over priced!


19 people like this
Posted by Michael Austin
a resident of Pleasanton Meadows
on Feb 5, 2015 at 8:25 am

Michael Austin is a registered user.

Arnold:
If your were to contact these people directly, identify yourself, ask your questions, you will get your answers.

Posting anonymously on this forum will not get answers to questions. The city directory lists email addresses and phone numbers for these folks. City staff never fails to answer my questions when I email them or when I call them.

You can also route your questions through the city's information officer, Joanne Hall.


Like this comment
Posted by The sky is not falling
a resident of Ponderosa
on Feb 6, 2015 at 8:56 am

Arnold,

It wasn't too long ago that City employees paid nothing into their pension. Now that they are paying 12% seems like more than enough progress in a few years time, remember that the last contracts have only reduced the benefits they and new employees receive. I think you need to take a step back on this issue and see what progress has been made.

Oh, and there are only 98 ways to boost pensionable pay.


2 people like this
Posted by zzzzzz...
a resident of Amador Estates
on Feb 6, 2015 at 9:19 am

Pleasanton and Livermore economy roaring yet people want city employees to work for nothing. Sad. Real costs not in rank and file but your Managers and the perks they get that rank and file don't get and their retirements and the double dipping managers.


Like this comment
Posted by Jared
a resident of Livermore
on Feb 6, 2015 at 9:25 am

The passage of the Public Employees’ Pension Reform Act (PEPRA) in 2013 resulted in significant changes to requirements associated with member contributions. Members new to the program are required to pay 10.5%, which is equivalent to 50% of the normal cost (the cost associated with the current year’s earned benefits). “Classic Members”, those already in the CalPERS system, do not have this requirement. Instead, their contribution is fixed at 9%, which IAFF has been paying since 2013. One of PEPRA’s stated goals is for the “Classic Members” to also pay 50% of the normal cost, and allows agencies, after good faith bargaining and completing the impasse procedures, to impose this provision up to a maximum of 12% in 2018.
The tentative agreement reached with IAFF meets PEPRA’s goal. “Classic Members” will increase payment of their member contribution by an additional 3% during the term of the contract, for a total member contribution of 12% according to the following schedule: 0.5% as soon as the contract with CALPERS is amended to allow this contribution; 0.5% in July 2015, 0.5% in July 2016, and the remaining 1.5% in July 2017. This will result in both Classic and PEPRA employees being responsible for 50% of the normal pension costs.


Like this comment
Posted by lll
a resident of Birdland
on Feb 6, 2015 at 10:42 am

In other words:

"We had been steeling a lot of the taxpayer money by abusing employee benefits. We are steeling less now so you should be thanking us."


2 people like this
Posted by Anti-Public unions
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Feb 6, 2015 at 1:44 pm

zzzzz, "work for nothing" ? get real!! How about working for normal, like your neighbors.
All city employees usually get more money, and always better medical, earlier retirements, and better pensions than their neighbors. The problem is most compare themselves & packages to CEOs. Well, news flash. You don't all deserve CEO pay, private or public. And, not everybody in the private, real world get any pensions or medical at all. These days many previously well-paid, go from 6 month project in one direction, to 6 mo 'project' in opposite direction, and NO pay over Christmas, and certainly NO pension. Tough for today's 50 year olds. I have contempt for public employees who dare to complain about the excesses they are given, sucked from people with no benefits and much less. That's the shame, and the lack of decency to appreciate and recognize the excess.


2 people like this
Posted by Arnold
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Feb 6, 2015 at 7:41 pm

Posted by Michael Austin says:

"Arnold:
If your were to contact these people directly, identify yourself, ask your questions, you will get your answers."

Michael, why is that even necessary? In the spirit of transparency, which was clearly lacking regarding the PD contract, I would hope any one of the three people I mentioned (above) would be happy to to put my concerns to rest, assuming they can. Afterall, this is a public forum provided by the Pleasanton Weekly, and city staff follows the PW. If not for those reason maybe they should provide the answers based on the number of page views alone. The only three questions I'm asking:

1) Are their any side letters regarding this contract?

2) Are any of the 99 different pay categories, which were included in Governor Browns Public Employee Pension Reform Act (PEPRA) included in/as "Pensionable Pay" for employees hired by the city of Pleasanton or Livermore, after the governor's pension reform effort of 2013. If so I would like to know why.

3) At what point will this city actually scrutinize cost increases for the departments they manage. Just saying this contract will increase cost by "X" only tells a fraction of the story - in a very parsed way. Do the numbers provided by the city INCLUDE the SUBSTANYIAL increase in pension costs, which will send employee skyrocketing, over the life of this contract? If so, I must have missed where those numbers were included. I hope someone can explain!

I would prefer that City Staff use this forum as a tool to help alleviate concerns, as opposed to something that is ignored and causes those concerns to fester.

If not for the hidden ommissions of the PD contract I wouldn't be commenting. Because of those contract ommission, I am. I hope Pleaston City government can provide honest answers to a few simple questions.


Like this comment
Posted by Arnold
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Feb 7, 2015 at 1:02 am

Jared says:

“The passage of the Public Employees' Pension Reform Act (PEPRA) in 2013 resulted in significant changes to requirements associated with member contributions. Members new to the program are required to pay 10.5%, which is equivalent to 50% of the normal cost (the cost associated with the current year's earned benefits). "Classic Members", those already in the CalPERS system, do not have this requirement. Instead, their contribution is fixed at 9%, which IAFF has been paying since 2013. One of PEPRA's stated goals is for the "Classic Members" to also pay 50% of the normal cost, and allows agencies, after good faith bargaining and completing the impasse procedures, to impose this provision up to a maximum of 12% in 2018.
The tentative agreement reached with IAFF meets PEPRA's goal. "Classic Members" will increase payment of their member contribution by an additional 3% during the term of the contract, for a total member contribution of 12% according to the following schedule: 0.5% as soon as the contract with CALPERS is amended to allow this contribution; 0.5% in July 2015, 0.5% in July 2016, and the remaining 1.5% in July 2017. This will result in both Classic and PEPRA employees being responsible for 50% of the normal pension costs."



Bull!

Jared, those are way too many words to say very little. For starters the current employees are paying a pittance of the actual cost of their pensions. To say that employees are now paying 9 percent of the cost of their pensions is like saying they are now paying what they should have always been paying, which the city has been paying for them for over a decade, and for that reason taxpayers should now be happy. Maybe you aren't aware but taxpayers pay 7.65% of payroll and receive about 32K per year for SS. As a small business owner I pay both ends of that number on the first 132K of earnings, or 15.3 percent of income, and I still only receive about 32K per year in SS benefits when I'm actually eligible (age 65),but that is a minor point.

I guess your claim is that the FD should be able to retire at age 50 with a six figure pension, and medical benefits fully paid up to age 65, and you think everyone else should pay for it but you. The 10.5% contribution rate, or 12 percent contribution rate, expressed as percentage of payroll was only meant to cost taxpayers a matching 17 percent of payroll. I think most people would consider a taxpayer contribution of 17K based on 100K of payroll extremely generous. I guess you aren't most people.

Unfortunately that 17k of payroll (17%) for every 100K of pay has grown ... and Grown ... and Grown. The taxpayer contribution has grown so high we are now contributing something like 40K toward your pension (per 100K of payroll) and that number will soon increase by 50 PERCENT. In other words taxpayer will soon be required to contribute 60K annually toward your pension for every 100K of payroll. For FD Captains and Battalion Chiefs that means they will have about 100K contributed to their retirement fund annually. Were those numbers included in the city's press release? NO!

How does that compare to common sense? And how does that compare to a 3% match of a 401K? Given that, how can the City of Pleasanton ignore these increasing costs while claiming the employees haven't received a raise? I'm sure they can look at the budget projections and see, very clearly, that costs are escalating at an unsustainable clip. The COLA raise increases have far exceeded the cost of living while the massive end of career payout known as the 3@50 pension formula has increased at an even faster pace thanks in part to retroactive pension benefit increases, which were illegal until our state legislatures approved them.

Again:

1) Are their any side letters regarding this contract?

2) Are any of the 99 different pay categories, which were included in Governor Browns Public Employee Pension Reform Act (PEPRA) included in/as "Pensionable Pay" for employees hired by the city of Pleasanton or Livermore, after the governor's pension reform effort of 2013. If so I would like to know why.

3) At what point will this city actually scrutinize cost increases for the departments they manage. Just saying this contract will increase cost by "X" only tells a fraction of the story - in a very parsed way. Do the numbers provided by the city INCLUDE the SUBSTANYIAL increase in pension costs, which will send employee costs skyrocketing, over the life of this contract? If so, I must have missed where those numbers were included. I hope someone can explain!


2 people like this
Posted by BobB
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Feb 7, 2015 at 10:38 am

"Afterall, this is a public forum provided by the Pleasanton Weekly, and city staff follows the PW."

I wouldn't count on that. Why not just follow his suggestion?


Sorry, but further commenting on this topic has been closed.

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