Looking back at 2016, we achieved numerous positive victories throughout Local 620’s jurisdictions. For the most part, our members have received positive growth in salaries and benefits. In the County of Santa Barbara we were able to negotiate a three-year MOU that provided growth in salaries and a bank of 1.0% of salary to work on our equity adjustments, effective July of 2017 (0.5%) & July of 2018 (0.5%), which represents over 1.8 million dollars for our bargaining units. Several classification in Santa Barbara City TAP unit also received long overdue substantial equity adjustments, but the down side is our members in the City of Santa Barbara General Unit finished the year with the city declaring an impasse, which resulted in state mediation being contacted to begin the mediation phase of the impasse procedure and the real possibility for Local 620 to request fact finding in our desire to obtain a fair contract with the city.
Looking forward to 2017, Local 620 and labor organizations are facing many challenges, many of which is unknown at this time. With a new administration taking office in January, clearly we are in for change. The popular belief is that labor organizations and our members are in for some real struggles and most likely public employees will again be the main target. On a positive note, it is also expected that there will be more jobs available for American citizens. The down side is that they will be expected to work for lower pay and greatly reduced benefits, if any at all and preferably un-organized and/or un-represented.
Public employee pensions again are under attack. In the County of Santa Barbara SBCERS lowered the assumption rate to 7.0% from 7.5% at their November / December board meeting, which will go into effect in July 2017. This will result in higher costs for both the employer and employee, which may result in the loss of jobs. Local 620 understands that assumption rates are a moving target, but it was our position that there was no need to move a full 0.5%. Their action will negatively affect the system due to potential lay-offs of newer workers who already have a lesser retirement / cost due to the provisions of PEPRA. This is rather self-defeating.
CalPERS followed suit in December 2016 announcing that they too will be reducing the assumption rate to 7.0%. The difference is that their approach will be over a three-year period, which will allow a smoother transition, possible market gains, and far less impact on employers and staff. The discount rate changes approved by the CalPERS Board for the next three fiscal years (FY) are as follows:
- FY 2017-2018: 7.375%
- FY 2018-2019: 7.25%
- FY 2019-2020: 7.00%
January of each year brings changes to Local 620 administration as well. As a result of some December chapter elections, our Executive Board loses and gains board members. At the time of writing this article, those changes are unknown because the election process is still being performed. I will report on the outcome in future articles and/or email blast. At January’s Executive Board meeting not only do we swear in new board members, we also approve the 2017 operating budget for Local 620. I am happy to report that the draft budget has been prepared and that I am proposing a balanced budget with very few modifications and none in staffing. As with any other organization, our budget is a prediction based on known parameters and subject to change if the circumstances change. Based on changes to our federal government, pension assumption rate, and uncertain economy forecast, I am recommending to the executive board that we need to be overly cautious this year until we better understand the results of all the changes that we will be experiencing.
Members of Local 620 can help leadership, fellow members, and staff by participating in your union and supporting neighboring jurisdictions with job actions and organizing. Staff will continue to reach out to fee payers to convert them to full members. Your help would be greatly appreciated both as an educator to your coworkers and as a job site leader. Many of our coworkers go through their days on the job not understanding that our salaries, benefits, and job protections are the result of hard work from loyal union members and leaders at the bargaining table and with our state and federal lawmakers.
Local 620 is dedicated to providing meaningful, quality service to our members. We look forward to interaction with members both in a group setting and one on one. We value your constructive input, and suggestions and we encourage you to participate in your union.
Bruce Corsaw, Executive Director