HomeCover StoriesAFSCME Local 858 Labor Picket

AFSCME Local 858 Labor Picket

Monday, August 11, 2014

African American news from Pasadena - City workers treated unequally and picket


In 2006, AFSCME Local 858 (City of Pasadena employees) negotiated a four-year labor contract (July 1, 2006 – June 30, 2010) that included pay raises each year, the last of which was a 4 percent increase set for July 2009.

Right before the raise was due in 2009, the city contacted AFSCME and asked if the bargaining group members would consider deferring that increase until July 2010 – the city just needed one year's worth of relief.

In return, there would be no layoffs, furloughs, or reduction in hours for our union members. AFSCME members agreed to defer the increase until July 2010, in good faith. AFSCME's willingness saved the city $773,427 in Fiscal Year 2010.

In 2010, AFSCME returned to the bargaining table to negotiate the next labor contract. Despite our recent generosity and good will, the city came to the table aggressively demanding we pay back the raise and threatening to lay off our members and take away our bargaining rights. This was a slap in our face, not only because they disrespected our sacrifice, but also because we learned they NEVER budgeted for our promised raise the year before. With the understanding that the city would demand ALL city employees would make the retirement contribution, AFSCME members were the first to step up and make concessions to pay an additional 3.4 percent of the retirement contribution (for a total of 8 percent being paid by employees), freeze step increases for all bargaining members for a year, and no floating holidays for 2011. In return for this two-year agreement, AFSCME members received a 1 percent increase in January 2012. AFSCME's continued sacrifice saved the city $814,511 for the 2010-2012 MOU.

In 2012, it was time to bargain the next contract. Though pay raises had been given to other employees (dispelling the notion the city had any financial problems), the city had failed to get everyone to contribute to their retirement. AFSCME members asked for something modest – just bring us up to the level of other city workers in similar jobs (we're behind by 4 percent). The city essentially slapped our face again, because they offered us a measly pay increase, lied about their fiscal problems, and totally ignored the fact that we ALWAYS came to their rescue when times were tough.

These negotiations have been going now for over two years . . .  During our bargaining, the city decided they would change how they administered healthcare – cutting $200 per month from employees who were enrolled in Kaiser. During this time, we also learned that while continually crying poverty, the city has doubled its General Fund balance – increasing it by more than $4 million. It would cost the city a tiny fraction of that to simply put us at par with other city employees (a little more than $600,000).

African American news from Pasadena - Community - City employees picket over unequal treatment

"Promises Are Meant To Be Honored, Pasadena . . . And There Should Be Equitability in the City's Workforce! All We Want is Fair Treatment!"

Now, the city wants to ram a four-year agreement down our throats that cuts healthcare, reduces retirement benefits by 8 percent, in return for two, 1 percent pay increases. The city has the financial capacity to keep employees out of harm's way, but instead treats us as second class citizens - providing us with less than other city employees.

Shame on the city for failing to honor its promises and its employees' sacrifices. Enough is enough!


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