Some Camas union contracts finalized

Cost savings will be reflected in 2011 budget

The three re-negotiated union contracts approved by the Camas City Council last night will save the city approximately $54,000 in 2011.

Contracts with the International Association of Fire Fighters Local No. 2444; Office and Professional Employees International Union Local 11; and Washington State Council of County and City Employees AFSCME, are now in place.

“They are realistic. They are reflective of the times we are in,” said City Administrator Lloyd Halverson of the new contracts. “We appreciate the good faith reasoning between the groups and the city.”

Although all three agreements, which have already been ratified by the unions, reflect no wage increases in 2011, two call for increases of 1 percent in 2012.

“All of these contracts were the result of sometimes intense, sometimes lengthy talks with these groups,” Halverson said.

Highlights of the contract changes for employees of each union include:

IAFF (firefighters)

Under a one-year contract, emergency workers in Camas will receive no increase in wages this year.

Effective April 1, these employees will switch to a new health care program — HealthFirst — that will end up saving the city approximately $27,000 in premiums. For dependents, the city will continue to pay 90 percent of the cost, while employees are responsible for 10 percent.

“That is a significant cost savings to the city,” Halverson said of the insurance carrier switch.

AFSCME (public works)

Under a two-year contract for 2011 and 2012, public works employees in Camas who are part of the union will receive no increase in wages in 2011, but will get a 1 percent pay bump in 2012.

In addition, instead of receiving an annual $250 incentive for having a current Commercial Driver’s License, which was part of the previous contract, they will earn an additional eight hours of vacation time annually. This change will save the city approximately $9,000.

Public works employees will also now pay for a greater share of their dependents’ health premiums — 15 percent instead of 10 percent. This will account for another $9,000 in savings to the city.

Local 11 (library)

Unionized library employees in Camas will receive no wage increases in 2011, but will earn a 1 percent boost in 2012. In addition, they will receive a one-time only additional day of paid leave, and an additional one hour of leave accrual at the 2 to 4-year service level.

Also included in the contract was a memorandum pertaining to a furlough period already built in to the 2011 budget, from Dec. 27 through Dec. 30. Employees can take all four specified days off, or spread the unpaid time — equal to a 1.2 percent annual pay reduction — throughout the year. This amounts to an $8,000 savings for the city.

Negotiations with all five city unions began in fall 2010. Representing the city in the discussions was a department head when needed, as well as Human Resources Director Jennifer Gorsuch and Monte Brachmann, who at the time talks began was hired as an independent consultant. Brachmann, the city’s former public works director who retired in March 2010, has since been hired to serve in the temporary position of fire chief.

Negotiations are still underway with two of the city’s unions including the Camas Police Officers Association and Camas Public Employees Association.

Halverson said those contracts will likely be resolved in the coming months.

“I think as we move into the spring we will have agreements with those groups,” he said. “That is my forecast.”