“We’ve reached a deal in principle with the union,” Mesquite City Attorney Bob Sweetin told the MLN late last week after officials for both the city and union spent most of a day in negotiations with each other. Mayor Al Litman said “it’s a win-win agreement that should make everyone happy.”
The agreement ends 18 months of often-contentious negotiations between the city and union.
Sweetin pegged the cost of the settlement at approximately $287,000. At one time, union representatives estimated their demands would cost the city between $728,929 and $749,490 depending on the exact final numbers of the pay raises.
The agreement covers city rank and file employees with the Teamsters Union #14 and covers a six-year period. Most employees will receive “modest back pay increases” for three years reaching back to 2013. Sweetin said that 24 employees who received pay raises during that time will be exempt. Also, those employees who topped out in their pay grade between 2013 and the present will receive $750 per year.
Going forward, employees will receive a 5 percent increase in each of the next three years unless they have topped out in their pay structure. In that case, the employee will receive a cost of living adjustment (COLA) not to exceed 3 percent or below 1 percent. For the current fiscal year, the COLA is set at 1.8 percent.
The union originally wanted a two-year extension to the 2013 Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA). The agreement extends the CBA for three years. The union also wanted step increases like those created for the police and fire union employees. Sweetin said no step increases will be institutionalized for the rank-and-file employees.
The agreement does not call for PERS (public employee retirement system) contributions for retroactive pay although the benefit will be funded going forward and will begin when the deal is finalized.
The union had rejected a previous city offer made in April that would have granted a 5 percent pay increase for all employees effective July 2016. All employees would have an opportunity to gain any lost pay increase. Every employee would receive a retro paycheck for 18 months based on a 5 percent pay increase. The current CBA would have been extended an additional two years. Employees topped out would receive an additional 3 percent pay increase.
Eventually the contract dispute went to arbitration with the mediator ruling against the city in August and ordered that “supervisors and non-supervisors be compensated an equitable and fair amount of additional pay equal to the amount of money received by police officers and firefighters between July 1, 2013 and June 30, 2016.”
Negotiations between the union and city began in March 2015 after the Mesquite Police Officers Association union settled with the city in December 2014 and Teamsters #14 contract for Fire & Rescue was signed with the city in February 2015. Police officers began receiving step increases retroactive to July 1, 2014 while Fire & Rescue employees also received step increases retroactive to July 1, 2013.
Teamsters Local #14 representing rank-and-file city employees say those increases kicked in a
“me too” clause in the contract that says “if any other group receives any monetary gain in the negotiated collective bargaining agreements for 2013/14 – 2015/16, other than for a necessary job reclassification, an equal monetary gain shall be given to all employees subject to this Agreement.”
The tentative settlement must still be voted on by union employees and also approved by the city council who will consider it at their Sept. 27 meeting.