Local 21 is pleased to announce that our chapter was the first union to reach an agreement with the Contra Costa Water District last month, settling on a six-year contract with a 3% to 5% raises, to be determined based on the consumer price index (CPI).
Although the District enjoyed a very positive financial year, they were still seeking significant concessions from our members. They were proposing a 2-year contract to allow for further concessions on healthcare in 2018, once the excise, or “Cadillac tax” under the Affordable Care Act is scheduled for implementation. In addition, the District was asking employees to pick up 50% of the normal cost of the other post-employment benefits, or OPEB (which amounts to about a 5% employee contribution); to adopt a slimmed-down version of all medical plans offered; to take on a 50% cost sharing of medical premium increases; to give up retiree health for all new hires; and lastly, they were proposing a meager 1.5% wage increase in year 1 with a cost-of-living adjustment (COLA)-based increase on CPI in year 2.
However, after months of bargaining, we upped the ante and were able to get a much better deal than what the District originally proposed — one that our members could support. We were able to decrease their originally proposed OPEB contribution of 5% down to 4.3%, with no more than a 1% increase from year to year in exchange for lifetime retiree medical coverage for both the employee and their spouse. The contract settlement contains a reopener specifically triggered in the event that the ACA excise tax is implemented.
We did agree to the City’s proposed healthcare plan redesign but are confident that the raises we bargained for will more than offset this concession.
The membership voted to ratify this agreement in late November, and although everyone would have liked to take less of a hit in the healthcare plan redesign, the members are still pleased with the agreement.