San Diego
Municipal Employees Association

Breaking News: Negotiations Have Finally Ended In A Tentative Agreement Between MEA and the City – Subject to Member Ratification on June 5th!

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The months of meetings and uncertainty have ended in a tentative agreement on a new contract between the City and MEA which your elected Negotiating Team recommends you approve based on the considerations explained below.

If ratified, the terms of this 5-year agreement will be set for the first 3 years only -- with MEA having the unconditional right to re-open over additional increases in non-pensionable compensation for years 4 and 5. The terms for the first 3 years are as follows:

July 1, 2013 (FY14):

(1.) A $770 increase in your Flexible Benefits Plan Dollar Value will be available during the upcoming Open Enrollment for the new fiscal year – the new total Flex Dollar Value will be $6,845.

(2.) Mandatory furlough will be decreased by one-half from 52 to 26 hours, resulting in 26 hours of pay being restored to your paycheck.

(3.) For reasons related to the delivery of safety services, the mandatory furlough will be entirely eliminated – and all 52 hours of pay restored – for employees in certain job classifications unique to the Police and Fire Departments, as well as Dispatchers in Public Works and at Station 38 (see complete list of classifications below).

(4.) Sixteen (16) Hours of Discretionary Leave will be provided to all full-time employees – and a proportionate number of discretionary leave hours will be provided for three-quarter and half-time employees.

(5.) For those hired before July 1, 2009, who are not in DROP, the City’s .4% “pick up” or offset of your mandatory employee retirement contribution will be discontinued; however, it is anticipated that your retirement contribution will also be lowered by .7% when the SDCERS Board authorizes revisions to the City’s and employees’ contributions as a result of the 5-year pensionable pay freeze to which all six City employee unions have agreed. This will mean a net benefit to these employees of .3% -- i.e., your take-home pay will increase by .3% even after the City discontinues its .4% “pick up” or offset. (Note: The City has never paid any “pick up” or offset for employees hired after July 1, 2009. Those employees will therefore enjoy the full .7% increase in take home pay if the SDCERS Board action occurs as anticipated. Employees who are in DROP no longer make retirement contributions and thus they will not be affected by the loss of the .4% offset or the gain of the .7% reduction in contribution.)

(6.) Beginning on July 1, 2013 and continuing for all 5 years of this agreement, paid bereavement leave will increase from “up to 3 days” to “up to 5 days” for a qualifying event.

(7.) Beginning on July 1, 2013 and continuing for all 5 years of this agreement, the current 75% reimbursement for TAP (Transportation Alternative Program) will increase to 90%.

July 1, 2014 (FY15):

(1.) Another $530 will be added to your Flexible Benefits Plan Dollar Value – with the new total becoming $7,375.

(2.) The remaining half of mandatory furlough will be eliminated, resulting in another 26 hours of pay being restored to your paycheck.

(3.) Sixteen (16) Hours of Discretionary Leave will be provided during FY15.

July 1, 2015 (FY16):

(1.) Another $1,180 will be added to your Flexible Benefits Plan Dollar Value – with the new total becoming $8,555.

(2.) Sixteen (16) Hours of Discretionary Leave will be provided during FY16.

July 1, 2016 (FY17), Re-Opener Over Additional Increases:

(1.) MEA may (and will) re-open this MOU solely to meet and confer regarding increases to non-pensionable compensation; however, MEA’s right to re-open does not give the City the right to seek decreases to either pensionable or non-pensionable compensation.

(2.) Sixteen (16) Hours of Discretionary Leave will be provided during FY17.

July 1, 2017 (FY18), Re-Opener Over Additional Increases:

(1.) MEA may (and will) re-open this MOU solely to meet and confer regarding increases to non-pensionable compensation; however, MEA’s right to re-open does not give the City the right to seek decreases to either pensionable or non-pensionable compensation.

(2.) Sixteen (16) Hours of Discretionary Leave will be provided during FY18.

Annual Percentage Increases Using Average MEA Salary:

The average annual salary of an MEA-represented employee is $54,500. Converting the increases detailed above into percentage increases based on MEA’s average salary produces the following percentage gains in each of the first 3 years of this tentative agreement:

1st Year (Beginning July 1, 2013) Average Increase = 3.1%*

*The percentage value of the reduction in furlough by half (26 hours), is 1.4%; the value of the $770 increase in Flex is 1.4%; and average net gain related to employees’ retirement contributions will be .3%.

[Note: This 3.1% average value will be greater for those hired on or after 7/1/09, and also for those estimated 390 employees in job classifications where the furlough will be entirely eliminated on July 1, 2013.]

2nd Year (Beginning July 1, 2014) Average Increase = 2.4%*

*The percentage value of the elimination in the remaining furlough (26 hours), is 1.4% and the value of another $530 increase in Flex is 1.0%.

3rd Year (Beginning July 1, 2015) Average Increase = 2.2%*

*The value of another $1,180 increase in Flex is 2.2%.

Total Average Increase Over First Three Years = 7.7%*

*Since the inception of the Flexible Benefits Plan in the mid-‘80s, every MEA-represented employee has received the same Flex Benefits Plan Dollar Value regardless of salary. Accordingly, every employee will receive the same increases in the Flex dollar value on July 1, 2013, July 1, 2014, and July 1, 2015. Strictly on a percentage basis, if you earn less than $54,500, the “value” of these Flex increases as a percentage of your salary will be higher than 7.7%; if you earn more than $54,500, the “value” of these Flex increases as a percentage of your salary will be lower than 7.7%.

Job Classifications For Which Mandatory Furlough Will Be Eliminated On July 1, 2013:

Police Records Clerk, Senior Police Records Clerk, Senior Police Records Data Specialist, Police Records Data Specialist, Police Records Data Specialist Supervisor, Police Service Officers I & II, Police Investigative Service Officers I & II, Police Investigative Aides I & II, Police Investigative Aide 2 (Latent Print Examiner Aide), Police Property and Evidence Clerk, Property and Evidence Supervisor, Senior Property and Evidence Supervisor, Cal-ID Technician, Supervising Cal-ID Technician, Police Dispatch Supervisor, Police Lead Dispatcher, Police Dispatcher, Police Dispatch Administrator, Supervising Criminalist, Supervising Criminalist (DNA), Criminalist I & II, Criminalist I (DNA), DNA Technical Manager, Crime Scene Specialist, Supervising Crime Scene Specialist, Supervising Latent Print Examiner, Latent Print Examiners I & II, Police Code Compliance Officer, Police Code Compliance Supervisor, Special Events Traffic Control Supervisor, Special Events Traffic Controller I & II, Parking Enforcement Officers I & II, Parking Enforcement Supervisor, Senior Parking Enforcement Supervisor, Public Works Dispatcher, Public Works Dispatch Supervisor, Dispatcher I & II, Fire Dispatcher, Fire Dispatch Supervisor, and Fire Dispatch Administrator.

Hourly Employees:

Hourly employees will have a 1.75% increase in their pay on July 1, 2013 when the 3% pay cut which has been in effect is partially restored. On July 1, 2014, hourly employees will have a 1.25% increase in their pay when the remaining pay cut is entirely eliminated, and the City will make an additional .5% contribution to hourly employees’ SPSP-H plan. On July 1, 2015, the City will make an additional 1.75% contribution to hourly employees’ SPSP-H plan.

Why Your Negotiating Team Recommends This Deal and Asks You To Vote “Yes” At Ratification:

This year’s negotiations began on the hopeful note that the defeat of Carl DeMaio and the election of Bob Filner would bring employees long-awaited relief from the take-away bargaining cycles of the past few years. However, as you know, even the new Mayor’s best intentions and your legitimate expectations must still overcome certain obstacles: (1) a budget for the new fiscal year balanced only through the use of one-time revenues; (2) a projected budget deficit for next year; and (3) a 4-to-4 partisan split on the Council – under the City Charter, a one-year agreement requires 5 votes for approval; a multi-year agreement requires 6 votes – and, of course, the Mayor is no longer a voting member of the City Council.

Your Negotiating Team began this process with clear objectives: (1) get back what you gave up; (2) get it back NOW; and (3) start moving ahead again with much-deserved increases in compensation.

Mayor Filner began this process with the goal of achieving a 5-year contract with all 6 labor organizations – with only non-pensionable forms of compensation being increased. In other words, Mayor Filner’s goal was to achieve by contract the Prop B objective of freezing all pensionable pay for 5 years (through June 30, 2018) in order to achieve significant reductions in the City’s annual pension contributions – both in the near and long term. But Mayor Filner also made clear that if this 5-year outcome could not be achieved, there would be no new money (or furlough reduction) in a one-year deal because of the budgetary constraints still facing the City for the next 2 years.

However, Mayor Filner’s 5-year agreement goal stalled for weeks when the City Council would only authorize an offer with ZERO in the first year and a one-and-a-half percent (1½ %) increase in each of the other 4 years for a total of 6%. This meant no increase in Flex Dollars for three more years -- and it meant that the pay deduct for 52 hours of mandatory furlough would remain fully in effect this year and take two more years after that to be gone. MEA said no way, no how.

Between then and today, there have been innumerable meetings and conversations between your MEA representatives and the City’s lead negotiator – both formal and informal. Protracted conversations – indeed debates – have gone on behind the scenes between MEA and individual members of the City Council. A historic coalition of all six labor organizations stood together on the City Concourse to tell the press (and the public) why employees deserve better and why the City can afford to do better by them if a 5-year pensionable pay freeze becomes the basis for an agreement.


These efforts led to several gradual improvements in the City’s offer but, from MEA’s perspective, it was still not good enough even after two other unions accepted it on May 17th and a third union accepted it on May 20th. MEA stood with the Firefighters and AFSCME Local 127 in demanding a better outcome in the near-term as employees continue to face so many economic pressures.

The improvements we were holding out for finally arrived (as described above) and we recommend you approve them. We now have a tentative agreement with an immediate Flex increase and a significant reduction in mandatory furlough on July 1, 2013; another Flex increase and the elimination of mandatory furlough for all employees on July 1, 2014; and another Flex increase in the third year bringing the Flex dollar value for MEA-represented employees to $8,555 by July 1, 2015.

When Labor-backed candidate Myrtle Cole was elected last Tuesday night to fill the 4th District Council seat (bringing the partisan split on the City Council to 5-4), some argued that we might do better if we returned our focus to negotiations over a one-year agreement after Councilmember-elect Cole is seated in June – despite Mayor Filner’s repeated emphasis that there would likely be “zero” in a one-year deal. But MEA’s Team concluded that this “wait-and-see” or “let them impose” strategy would involve a real roll of the dice because the City’s fiscal picture is admittedly more difficult if the pension savings, which come only with the 5-year deal, are not achieved. Rolling that dice could mean that you would get nothing at all for FY14 – or much less than the terms described above – and thus only add to the money you would never get back.

We concluded that MEA could not in good conscience take that chance – knowing, as we do, that every one of you will put that extra $770 in Flex and your 26 hours of restored pay to good use for yourselves and your families now – with more guaranteed to come in the second and third years – and a realistic hope of much more still to come in years 4 and 5, with the threat of take-aways finally behind us and our Union Coalition stronger than ever. The other “hold-out” unions – Firefighters and AFSCME Local 127 – concluded the same, with all six labor organizations now having reached Tentative Agreements.

It Will Now Be Your Turn to Vote This Tentative Agreement “Up” Or “Down” As A Package

While your elected Negotiating Team members have spent the last several months making countless judgments and decisions which have led to this tentative agreement, it will now be up to the MEA membership to vote “yes” or “no” on this proposed contract.

Next week, on Wednesday, June 5th, MEA will conduct a ratification vote at several locations around the city. Your MEA professional staff, elected officers and Negotiating Team members will be on hand to answer your questions about the terms – as well as the reasoning behind the recommendation that you approve this tentative agreement.

The terms must be voted “up” or “down” as a package. If a majority of members approve the tentative agreement by their “yes” votes, the terms detailed above will be brought before the City Council for final approval in open session and then implemented beginning on July 1, 2013.

If a majority of members reject the tentative agreement by their “no” votes, these terms will not be implemented and MEA will return to the bargaining table to address the City’s “last, best and final offer” (LBFO) for a 1-year contract which the City presented to MEA on May 17. The City’s LBFO is presently a “big zero” – with no increase in the Flex dollar value, no reduction in mandatory furlough (except for a handful of job classifications in the Police and Fire Departments), and no provision renewing the 16 hours of discretionary leave which currently expires on June 30th. While your Negotiating Team’s goal would be to improve the City’s LBFO for FY14, the prospect of doing so is at best uncertain for the reasons noted above.

As news of this tentative agreement spreads, you are likely to hear various characterizations about it. The City’s politicians will put their “spin” on it to fit their customary “talking points” and to make themselves look good to their partisan supporters. The media will likely add to the confusion. Many of your fellow City employees will offer their own critique – positive or negative. Opinions may vary based on personal financial circumstances. In the end, when you prepare to cast your individual vote as an MEA member, you alone can answer the question as to what approval or rejection of these terms will mean for you, your family, and your own “bottom line.”

Watch for more information on the locations, times and other details related to the ratification vote which will be broadcast in the coming days through additional e-blasts and will also be posted on MEA’s website.

Thank you for your patience and faith in your elected MEA Negotiating Team during this year’s particularly protracted and complicated contract negotiations. As noted above, it is now your turn to analyze and evaluate the terms of this tentative agreement that has been reached with the City, and participate in the ratification vote set for June 5. We look forward to seeing you then.