Tuolumne County’s negotiations with a labor group first led to declaring an impasse, then a mediation, and now a fact finding process.
It is part of the final stage of the impasse between the county and Tuolumne County Employees/OE3. The labor group represents 280 employees in the categories of General, Skilled Trades, Roads and Professional Units.
The County offered what it called its “Last, Best and Final” offer back on September 5. The first alternative was a two year agreement, with employees contributing 6.25% towards PERS retirement, and receiving a 1% general wage increase. Alternative Two was just a one year agreement, with a 7% employee share of PERS and no wage increase.
Over the past five years, county employees have seen a combination of pay reductions and furloughs, but the cuts were restored effective this past July. By doing this, though, the county started asking that all employees start contributing to their retirement benefits. The County reports that all of the unions, except OE3, have now agreed to the 6.25% contribution towards PERS retirement benefits.
CAO Craig Pedro has issued a statement reading, “This is an important year for the County as we are trying to emerge from some tough economic times and are determined to place the County on a sustainable future course.”
The “fact-finding” process is part of Assembly Bill 646, which was signed by the Governor in 2011. After unsuccessful mediation, and upon union request, the County must participate in “fact finding” as part of the final stage of the impasse process. A panel will examine the dispute and make a recommendation about how to move forward. The county could come back with another offer at that time if it so chooses.
The labor contract expired on June 30 and the two sides have been unable to reach a compromise after several bargaining sessions.