Supes Ready To Trade Raises To Unions For Increased Retirement Payments

Board to vote on nurse, sheriff contracts Tuesday.

The San Mateo County Board of Supervisors are set tomorrow to approve pay raises for county nurses and sheriff's sergeants in a trade-off for increased contributions by the unions to their retirement funds. 

The board, which meets Tuesday morning in Redwood City, will discuss approving newcontracts with both unions for the upcoming fiscal year, and beyond. 

"This will contribute long-term savings toward eliminating the County’s $100+ million structural deficit," a county report says, referring to the contract agreements.

Under approval, the 340 nurses represented by the California Nurses Association will receive an annual two-pecercent pay increase over the course of the three-year contract. 

In return, newly hired nurses are set to receive a contribution of 1.72 percent of their final salary multiplied by number of years worked, at age 58, to their post-retirement benefits plan. This marks a reduction from the current agreement of two percent at 55.5 years old, according to a county report.

Members of the California Nurses Association represent about seven percent of county employees in unions, the report says.

Union members represented by the Organization of Sheriff’s Sergeants have made a similar agreement.

Sergeants are guaranteed a three percent pay hike, which will be deferred to begin in 2015, under approval by the Board of Supervisors. 

In return, sergeants have agreed to pay 15 percent of their health premium cost. That is a five percent increase from the 10 percent they currently contribute, according to a district report. 

In a give-back similar to the one agreed upon by the nurses union, newly hired sergeants will be asked to contribute more to their benefit plans. Sergeants will be offered the option to either retire at age 50 with two percent of their final salary multiplied by number of years worked, or at age 55 with three percent, according to the county report. 

Members of the sergeants union currently are offered three percent at 50 years old, according to the county report.

Members of the Organization of Sheriff’s Sergeants represent about one percent of county employees in unions, according to the county report.

Both the unions have already agreed to the proposed contracts, the report says.

County Counsel John Beiers has recommended the board approve both contracts.

In all, the county stands to save nearly more than $4 million over the course of the next 10 years between the two new contracts, according to the report.

A majority of the supervisors must ratify the proposed contracts in order for them to go into effect. 

Pension payments to public employees have undergone enormous scrutiny in recent years, and are widely regarded as overwhelming burdens on taxpayer dollars by cities and counties across the nation.

Trade-offs in which districts are willing to pay more over the short term in return for greater union contributions to retirement and health plans have become increasingly popular means of attempting to cut down on structural debt. 

Local cities such as Foster City and Redwood City have pursued similar agreements in an effort to lessen their long term financial burdens. 

The San Mateo County Board Of Supervisors meets at 9 a.m. Tuesday in the County Government Center in Redwood City. 


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