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City Labor Groups Call For 14.5 Percent Raises Over Five Years

Leaders of five of the six unions that represent city of San Diego employees today publicly unveiled their offer to accept a five-year labor deal in exchange for a 14.5 percent pay raise over that time period.

Mayor Bob Filner has called for such an agreement since early in his campaign as a cost-saving measure for the city, and the concept has strong support on the City Council. However, at a recent council meeting, some members said details like the size of the salary increases were a hold-up.

"Our negotiations are somewhat stalled,'' Mike Zucchet, general manager of the Municipal Employees Association, said at a news conference.

The proposed package includes labor acceptance of a major component of a pension reform initiative passed by voters last year, which limits -- to base pay for five years -- the compensation that employees can later use to calculate their retirement benefits.

In exchange, the unions want to end a 6 percent salary reduction implemented in 2009.

The union proposal calls for most employees to receive a 1 percent bump in pay in the fiscal year that begins July 1. Pay increases in following years would be 1.5 percent, 2.5 percent, 4.5 percent and 5 percent, respectively.

For public safety workers, the increases would be 2 percent, 2 percent, 2.5 percent, 3.5 percent and 4.5 percent.

The "gradual'' increases are "an eminently reasonable approach,'' Zucchet said. The union offer would generate huge budget surpluses that could be used to improve city services, and create stability for workers, he said.

Chris Cate, of the San Diego Taxpayers Association, said city workers have been receiving pay boosts the last few years with promotions and step increases.

"I think giving 15 percent salary increases to both safety and non-safety employees over a five-year period goes well above and beyond restoring the 6 percent cuts back in 2009,'' Cate said.

Ultimately, city and union leaders will have to decide what a fair pay increase for workers will be, Cate said.

Councilman Kevin Faulconer said after the news conference that he supports a five-year deal that protects taxpayers.

"When the mayor is delaying managed competition and postponing funding for critical street repairs, San Diego cannot afford double-digit, across-the-board government pay increases that will cost more than $200 million over five years," Faulconer said.

Council President Todd Gloria said he was committed to getting "the right deal'' done.

"As I have throughout the labor negotiations process, I support a five year contract with city employees that would provide for minimal non-pensionable pay increases which would gradually restore the 6 percent compensation cuts that have been in effect since 2009, and provide cost-of-living adjustments over the term of the agreement,'' Gloria said.

He said city employees deserve fair compensation that's competitive with what their counterparts make around the state.

Representatives of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees did not attend the news conference.

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