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Calexico City Council ends impasse, awards employees' union 4% pay hike, longevity pay

February 21, 2001|By RICHARD MONTENEGRO, Staff Writer

CALEXICO — An impasse between this city and a city employees' association ended Tuesday when the City Council awarded the 70-member union increased longevity pay as well as a 4 percent cost-of-living raise retroactive to July.

After an impasse hearing in which the city's negotiator, Cynthia O'Neill, and officials with the Calexico Miscellaneous Employees' Association explained on what issues the sides were at odds, the council convened in executive session and ordered city negotiators to get a deal done before the end of the council meeting.

The miscellaneous employees and the city were deadlocked on four issues: the renaming of a bilingual pay stipend awarded in March to a cost-of-living raise in lieu of bilingual pay; the issue of longevity pay; the retroactivity of the 4 percent cost-of-living raise; and a paid Cesar Chavez holiday.

In the end, the city and the miscellaneous employees came to terms on the longevity pay and the retroactive 4 percent raise.


Said MEA president Gloria Grijalva: "We have accepted the terms the council has presented to us. We're thankful."

Following the announcement council chambers erupted in cheers from the 20 or so miscellaneous employees while Grijalva hugged each member of the council.

The miscellaneous employees in March were the only group to receive a bilingual stipend. When city negotiators were ironing out labor contracts for the current fiscal year, it was agreed all other bargaining units except for the MEA would receive a total of a 7 percent cost-of-living increase. MEA members were only to receive 4 percent with the 3 percent bilingual stipend being renamed as a cost of living raise in lieu of bilingual pay.

Grijalva said the MEA members agreed to have that stipend renamed after its members got in writing a promise to institute a new bilingual pay program and testing method in the coming fiscal year.

The MEA receive longevity pay that would put its members on par with longevity pay received by other associations such as the water plant operators.

Grijalva said at 25 years of employment with the city, water plant operators receive a $200 a month increase in pay while MEA members received only $65. Under the new contract, MEA members would receive the same as the water plant operators.

As for the Cesar Chavez holiday, Grijalva said that is something that will be negotiated in next year's round of labor negotiations.

Because the MEA opted against calling in a state mediator to resolve the impasse, the decision went to the council.

The council had three options Tuesday — it could force the city's last offer on the association; it could have sent both sides back to the bargaining table; or it could have directed city negotiators to offer a revised contract. The council chose the latter.

Four of the five city bargaining units — firefighters, police officers, supervisors and water/wastewater plant operators — came to terms on a contract months ago.

Staff Writer Richard Montenegro can be reached at 337-3453.

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