LONG BEACH – The city’s largest employee union is expected to vote on a pension reform agreement in early January that contains retirement concessions but protects workers from layoffs, a labor spokesman said Wednesday.
Dave Sterling, a business representative with the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers, said the approximately 3,600-member union could vote to amend the contract as soon as the week of Jan. 7. If the union consents to the changes, a vote of the City Council would follow before the deal’s provisions are implemented.
The proposal could save the city millions of dollars as it projects further deficits in coming years that could lead to deeper cuts in services.
According to details revealed by the IAM, city management and union negotiators agreed to terms this month that are similar to earlier proposals that have been made public.
Current employees would pay 6 percent more of their salary toward pension costs, an increase from 2 percent to 8 percent, continue to receive 2.5 percent of their pay as pension for each year worked and be eligible to retire at age 55.
New hires would receive less, getting 2 percent of salary at retirement for each year worked while being able to retire at age 62. They would also pay 7 percent of their salary toward their pensions as a result of their reduced benefits.
Additionally, the city would commit to not laying off any more IAM members, who are the
bulk of the city’s nonpublic safety workers, and the union’s contract would be extended one year, to Sept. 30, 2014.Sterling said IAM leaders are endorsing the latest proposal after being neutral on an earlier city deal the union rejected in August in part because employees weren’t insulated from layoffs.
“With this proposal, knowing this is the best collaborative deal we can reach with the city, we are endorsing this when we communicate this to our members,” Sterling said.
The 5 percent remaining in the IAM’s contract for a wage study that was not completed would be distributed equally among union members rather than through an arbitration process, according to the agreement.
IAM employees were scheduled to receive a 2 percent contractual raise Oct. 1, but labor representatives had agreed to delay the increase while officials worked on an accord.
City officials declined to comment on the negotiations Wednesday.
It was unclear how much the pending deal would save Long Beach, but the city’s pension reform package offered in August was expected to save $3.9 million in the general fund and $12.2 million in all funds in the current fiscal year.
Mayor Bob Foster has pushed for a ballot measure next year lowering the salaries of nonpublic safety employees to 2010 levels if pension reform negotiations do not succeed.
Most other city unions, including the police and firefighter associations, have already agreed to pension reforms. The police and firefighter associations’ agreements, which were approved last year, are projected to save the city $100 million by 2022.