SLO County awards 7 percent pay increases to union members

January 16, 2020


A little more than a year after conducting the first strike in county government history, San Luis Obispo County’s largest labor union reached a deal that will enable its members to receive raises of at least 7 percent over the next year and a half.

Some employees deemed to have been earning below-market pay will receive raises of 10 to 15 percent over the next 18 months.

On Tuesday, the county board of supervisors approved a three-year labor agreement with the San Luis Obispo County Employees Association (SLOCEA). The agreement with SLOCEA, which represents more than 1,700 of the county’s nearly 3,000 employees, has an estimated ongoing annual cost to the county of $12 million.

Under the new labor agreement, SLOCEA members will receive 3 percent raises retroactive to July 1, 2019. Some workers will receive equity raises on top of the 3 percent increases, according to a county staff report.

All union members will then receive 2 percent raises on both July 1, 2020 and July 1, 2021.

Some workers who will receive total pay hikes of more than 10 percent include wastewater systems superintendents, an account clerk, economic crime officers, a social services investigator, greenskeepers and a child support specialist.

In addition to the pay raises, SLOCEA members will receive benefit increases. The benefit package includes increased compensation for employees who are on-call overnight and a $500 payment in 2020 that is intended to offset pension and health care costs.

On an ongoing basis, increases to SLOCEA health benefits alone will cost the county nearly $600,000 annually.

The labor agreement also includes a cap on employees’ shares of pension contribution increases.

Funds that will be used to cover the salary and benefit increases are expected to come out of county reserves and general fund contingencies. Departmental savings are also expected to help fund the pay hike.

In 2018, county officials offered SLOCEA the same raises that most management employees received, which amounted to a 4 percent increase in salary and benefits over two years.

SLOCEA rejected the offer and conducted a three-day strike in December 2018, which resulted in the closure of all public library branches countywide and the shutdown of some social services. About 900 union members participated in the strike.

Even though SLOCEA rejected the county’s offer and opted to conduct a strike, union members still received small pay increases in 2018. That year, county officials decided on their own to award SLOCEA members .5 percent raises, as well as benefit increases, effective at the beginning of 2019.

Negotiations between SLOCEA and the county resumed in April 2019. Following 15 sessions of negotiations, the two sides reached a tentative agreement on Dec. 4.

On Jan. 2, SLOCEA notified the county that its members ratified the deal.

The recent raises for both management and union workers have come as the county has needed to close multiple budget shortfalls.

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This is inaccurate. NO retro pay is going to be given to members of SLOCEA. The 7% COLA is over a 3 year period. (Mind you cost of living goes up 3% every year.) The total raise of health care pay wont take affect for a single employee for 3 years and wow we will get a 15 adjustment (mind you the health insurance has doubled since 2014 because the county decided to leave CALPERS and go with private insurance.) Instead of blaming the middle to low class government employees who are every day people, go after the supervisors who are the ones with the money. Not the little admin clerk who got a 3% cost of living adjustment on there whopping $17 hourly wage and who cant afford to pay for a 1200 studio one bedroom apartment – 30 min away from SLO. The focus is in the wrong spot. Look to the top, not to the bottom.

If you want to live the SLO Life go work for the county. Gotta raise the fees to keep these county employees happy.

7-10% seems fair enough…not going to get all worked up over this…

They held a strike? Who noticed? Seems like we can eliminate 900 union members and not miss a thing. What a racket (erring).

Another taxpayer shakedown. All so they can be rude or indifferent to us at counters, and obstructive to us in getting permits to paint a fence. I know there’s some dedicated ones busting their butts out there; just don’t look for that dedication in planning or the sheriff’s department.

As Adam Hill said many times last night, debating his District 3 opponent Stacy Korsgaden in a fight to keep his post as a County supervisor, we need to just keep raising taxes to pay for these things. He chastised the public for being unwilling to play (pay) along. I have an idea – how about we boot Adam Hill and his cronies who use their positions to line their pockets. We then would not need more taxes – because the money that now goes to the crooks would come back to us. Problem solved. VOTE! and vote carefully.

Does this mean the “poor” employee who announced that she made so little that she qualified for assistance will not anymore? If I recall she made around $53,000 not counting her assistance so she now is making around $57,000.

I found the previous information. The employee was Cassandra DeSpain, a county employment/resource specialist. She received $58,626 in pay and $74,828 in total compensation, according to the 2017 Transparent California database, yet she claimed Medi-Cal and Section 8 assistance. Lets hope with her new roughly $80,000 salary she can finally get off of assistance.

Well, $12 million here, $12 million there…. pretty soon you’ll be talkin’ ’bout real money.

“Funds that will be used to cover the salary and benefit increases are expected to come out of county reserves and general fund contingencies.” In other words, borrowing from your future to pay for your present excesses. Plus, pile up your future retirement obligations at the same time…

Now, THAT’S a great way to fast-forward yourself into bankruptcy. But then, none of this is surprising, now, is it?