Camas Council approves final two union contracts

There will be no pay increases in 2011

The Camas City Council last night approved the final two employee union contracts, putting to bed the negotiation efforts that will have an impact on the 2011 budget.

Agreements were reached with the Camas Police Officers’ Association and the Camas Public Employees’ Association, and both have been ratified by the members of both entities.

The one-year contract with the CPOA, which impacts 25 city employees, includes no pay increase. However, vacation accruals will increase from 10, 13, 15 and 18 hours per month, to 12, 14, 16 and 20 hours per month, depending on the number of years an employee has worked for the city. In addition, sick leave accrual will increase from 8 to 10 hours per month.

Also, beginning May 1 unionized police officers will switch to a new health plan, and begin paying for 10 percent of dependents’ premium costs, while the city picks up 90 percent. Previously, the city paid 105 percent of the previous year’s premium for both employee and dependents. According to Human Resources Director Jennifer Gorsuch, these changes should result in about $7,000 in savings for the city this year.

The two-year contract with the CPEA also reflects a zero percent salary increase for 2011, but includes a 1 percent wage hike in 2012.

In addition, effective July 1, the 41 CPEA employees will begin paying 5 percent of their own health care premium costs, while the city will pay 95 percent. The city will continue to pay 90 percent of premium costs for dependents. This adjustment will save the city approximately $6,000 this year, Gorsuch said.

Contract negotiations have been a source of concern for city leaders during 2011 budget discussions that ramped up in the final quarter of last year. The city was dealing with an $800,000 shortfall to its general fund.

Camas City Administrator Lloyd Halverson said results of negotiations including employees paying a share of their own health care premiums, and contributing a greater share toward dependent premiums improved the city’s financial standing.

“It’s helped, and the total savings are in the thousands of dollars,” he said.

Halverson said some of the concessions the city made — like increases in vacation and sick leave accruals for police — are not expected to create additional costs such as overtime.

“It will stretch us though,” he said.

Negotiations between the city and all five of the unions began in fall 2010.

While three of the unions entered into two-year agreements that run through Dec. 31, 2012, the approved contracts with the CPEA and the International Association of Fire Fighters Local No. 2444 apply only to 2011. Discussions pertaining to 2012, and potentially beyond, are expected to begin this fall, Halverson said.

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