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Coral Gables

Coral Gables imposes new terms on non-uniformed employees

Coral Gables commissioners on Wednesday imposed new contract terms on Teamsters Local 769, the union representing the city’s 290 or so non-uniformed employees.

The commission decided on the terms at an impasse hearing after negotiations failed to produce a contract.

Among the decisions in the new contract, general employees had been paying 20.26 percent of their salaries towards the pension plan. The union requested a figure of 12 percent. The city manager’s position was 18.26 percent. Ultimately, the commission, in a 4-1 vote, set the figure at 17 percent. Commissioner Frank Quesada voted against the figure without naming a desired number.

“It was an improvement over where we were but far from where we need to be,” said Mike Scott, president of the Teamsters Local 769. “We recognize there are issues with the pension, but we don’t feel it should fall totally on our bargaining unit.”

The actual benefit was unchanged, City Manager Pat Salerno said. “We didn’t change any of the benefits in the action, the change is to how much they contribute. What was in dispute was how much an employee pays to their pension.”

By comparison, currently the police contribute 10 percent of their pay toward their pensions, up from 5 percent after negotiations last fall. The fire employees, currently in negotiations with the city, pay 5 percent and the city wants to take them to 10 percent. Management in the city pays 15 percent toward their pensions.

A 30-year non-uniformed employee, making $60,000 annually, would get an annual pension of $40,500, Salerno said.

The new contract stays in effect until the city and union reach a new agreement and there is no time frame for when that could happen, Salerno said.

The new contract also caps monthly health insurance premium costs per employee at $665 or $7,980 annually. If insurance premiums rise, that amount will have to be bargained for each year rather than simply remaining open-ended as it has been and as the union desired.

The union also wanted to “sell” up to 80 hours of annual leave, meaning if vacation had built up employees could cash-out two weeks of vacation per year. The commission unanimously rejected that proposal.

The city and union also negotiated over its layoff and cost-sharing strategy.

The union wanted to ensure that an employee with seniority, facing a lay-off, could bump down into any lower classification job or position. The city wanted to maintain the existing language that says an employee can only bump down into a job they once held. The commission ruled unanimously to keep the current approach intact.

Additionally, if pension costs rise the city has a system by which the costs are shared 50-50. For example, if pension costs rise 10 percent, the city absorbs 5 percent of the burden and the union takes the other half. The commission unanimously opted to keep that arrangement intact, over the objections of the union.

“The majority of the impact hit our lowest-paid unit in the city,” Scott said.

Follow @HowardCohen on Twitter.

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