SLO employees’ union negotiations stall, tensions mount
February 11, 2012
By KAREN VELIE
UPDATE: Includes a statement by San Luis Obispo Employees Association Vice President Madelyn Paasch that says city negotiators first declared an impasse.
Amidst allegations of bargaining in bad faith, contract negotiations between the city of San Luis Obispo and its employees’ union stalled Thursday.
Details of the negotiations were provided by city staffers and others involved in the bargaining process. These sources spoke on the condition of anonymity because of agreements not to reveal details to the media.
During what was scheduled as an all day negotiating session, tensions mounted with San Luis Obispo City Employees’ Association President Ron Faria arguing that the city was negotiating in bad faith. Representing the city, San Francisco based attorney Rick Bolanos fired back claiming Faria’s whole deal was to stall and delay, the sources said.
Faria then said they were at an impasse which ended the session less than three hours after it began, the sources said.
San Luis Obispo Employees Association Vice President Madelyn Paasch contends it was members of the city’s negotiation team, Monica Irons and Rick Bolanos, who declared the negotiations were at an impasse not association representatives.
“To date we have not received anything in writing declaring the ‘impasse,’ ” Paasch said. “We anticipate this letter in the near future based on the ‘shut down’ for further discussions by the city. It has always been our intent to bargain fairly and provide the best we can for our membership.”
City negotiators are proposing association members agree to a 6.8 percent reduction in pay, the sources said. And while Faria is arguing against any employee decrease in pay or benefits, several employees said they prefer to mirror city management and the firefighter’s union and agree to pay the employee portion of their retirement contributions which would amount to an 8 percent compensation reduction.
These employees argue that if Gov. Jerry Brown’s 12 point pension reform plan is agreed to government employees will be required to pay their own contributions to the state retirement plan regardless of previous salary concessions.
Following the meeting, Faria made comments to staffers that the association has the power to “bring the city to its knees,” sources said.
When asked to comment on his alleged statements and Thursday’s bargaining session, Faria said, “We are still in negotiations so I am not going to say anything.”
Negotiations between the association and the city have been ongoing since September. The previous city and union contract expired on Dec. 31.