County and labor union make late-night deal, averting three-day strike

07/05/2018

Marin County narrowly averted a strike by its largest union last week that had included plans to picket at the county fair. Officials resolved labor negotiation disputes late last Friday night with the Marin Association of Public Employees, which includes around 1,300 employees with a range of expertise, including librarians, sheriff’s dispatchers, park rangers, road maintenance workers, deputy public defenders and more. The union, MAPE, had announced a strike from Sunday, July 1, through Tuesday, July 3, following a Saturday demonstration just outside the ticket booths on the first day of the Marin County Fair. Last week, the county announced it was prepared to make do without some critical services—but it wasn’t necessary. Some of the sticking points in negotiating the three-year collective bargaining agreement were rules around overtime—which will stay the same, kicking in with an excess of 40 hours per week—and health benefits. The county had proposed to gradually lower the maximum amount employees are refunded in cash from the money they don’t spend through their health benefits. Ultimately, the county withdrew that proposal. Under the tentative agreement, refunds will stay the same for current employees, though there will be no cash back for employees hired on or after July 1, 2018. The terms of the agreement include a one-time bargaining bonus of $1,000 for employees making less than $90,000 per year and $500 for those making more than $90,000, and a one-time $1,500 for certain Sheriff’s Office personnel. Wages will be adjusted 2.5 percent in 2018, 3 percent in 2019, and 2.5 percent in 2020. Pay for emergency response personnel for child protective services will increase by 5 percent by July 2020. There will be an additional 10 percent hourly differential for certain jail personnel, including stationary engineers, building maintenance workers and clinical psychologists. The parties also reached agreement on the terms of the county's RideGreen program, which provides up to $40 a month in transit subsidies, or the same amount in bike or carpool incentives or in reductions for electric vehicle charging fees. MAPE has set a vote for July 9 to approve the tentative agreement, after which the Board of Supervisors will consider it for ratification on July 10.