Long Beach has reached a tentative agreement with five of its labor groups that would save $2.74 million from the city’s general fund in the next fiscal year — which could help address a projected $30 million deficit in the budget.
Four bargaining units have agreed to 26 furlough days in fiscal year 2021, which would represent about a 10% pay cut.
The four groups are:
The Long Beach Management Association, which has 350 employees;
The Association of Confidential Employees, which has 40 employees;
The City Prosecutors’ Association, which has 20 employees; and
The City Attorneys’ Association, which has 30 employees.
On top of those agreements, the nearly 600 members of the Association of Long Beach Employees — whose contract is not currently up for negotiation — agreed to give up a $1,500 lump sum payment and to take six furlough days.
Long Beach Human Resources Director Alex Basquez said in an email that the agreements from the five employee groups would save $2.74 million from the city’s general fund next year.
In addition to those groups, the Lifeguard Association, which represents 200 employees, has also tentatively approved a new contract that does not include furloughs; the city has not sought furloughs from employee groups who work in public safety.
All of the groups that approved new contracts also agreed to add clauses that would allow the city to reopen negotiations if Long Beach falls further into financial hardship.
The agreements will likely be approved by the City Council at its Tuesday, Aug. 25, meeting. Also on the agenda is an amendment of City Manager Tom Modica’s contract, which would allow him “to voluntarily participate” in the same 26-day furlough program.
Furloughing Modica for 26 days would save the city about $31,000, according to a memo the city manager wrote to the council recommending the amendment to his contract.
“Given the sacrifices being made by city employees,” Modica wrote, “it is fitting the City Manager also participate in the work furlough program.”
Modica noted that even on his furlough days, he would still be available “in the event of an emergency or other situation that cannot reasonably be delayed to a non-furlough day.”
Under the proposed program, city services would likely close one day every two weeks.
In addition to the furloughs, sworn employees have agreed to further cost-saving measures.
Specifically, Lifeguard, Police and Fire management sworn employees will forfeit 40 hours for employees on 40-hour work week schedules, or 48 hours for employees on a platoon schedule.
And sworn management employees who participate in the Classic Public Employees’ Retirement System (PERS) must contribute another 3% of their salaries to offset the city’s pension costs.
Basquez said Friday she did not have a savings estimate of those measures, but she did say they would offset the total cost of the contracts. She also said those concessions were not included in the $11 million in savings that Modica said earlier this month he hoped to achieve through employee furloughs.
But the contract changes weren’t all about concessions from the employee groups.
New benefits the employees will receive include 30 days of paid parental leave, a paid city holiday on Election Day, extended disability plans and a gym discount program, among others.
The city, though, still has more work to do at the negotiating table to achieve Modica’s goal of $11 million in savings.
While the tentative agreements made so far put the city on track to meet that number, other employee groups are still bargaining.
Basquez said Friday that negotiations are ongoing with the Service Employees International Union and the Long Beach Supervisors Employees Association, which represent about 100 employees each.
The International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers, which represents more than 3,000 employees, and the Association of Engineering Employees, which represents about 300, are currently voting on the city’s contract offer, Basquez said.
But for now, officials seem pleased with the progress.
“We thank employees for recognizing the fiscal situation and coming to the table with solutions,” Modica said in a statement. “Their sacrifices allow the city to avoid further layoffs and retain city services while working to meet $11 million in savings during this time of fiscal difficulty.”