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IID board makes initial wage offer to employee groups

March 13, 2002|By RUDY YNIGUEZ

Staff Writer

LA QUINTA — The Imperial Irrigation District Board of Directors made its initial offer for wages and benefits to its two employee groups Tuesday.

The vote was unanimous and applies to the Imperial Irrigation District Employees Association and the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local 465.

Division 2 Director Bruce Kuhn was absent.

The board followed the recommendations of its lead attorney on the issue, Frank Oswalt, of Horton Knox Carter & Foote. Oswalt said the recommendations were to follow the same salary schedule in 2002 as used in 2001, that is, the same pay for this year that employees had last year and not a pay increase as reported Monday.

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On the benefits side, Oswalt said the board should seek to obtain $550,000 in higher employee contributions for employee health care. Oswalt said health care costs have increased substantially, and that one way to increase the employees' share is through higher co-payments for prescription medicine and visits associated with doctors and hospitals.

"This is your initial proposal," Oswalt said, adding there will still be full negotiations with both employee groups to discuss all issues.

Betty Voroveanu, president of the IIDEA, said the district's initial offer was expected. She said pay and benefits from other areas will be compared and then talks will be held.

"We'll do our homework and see what happens," she said.

The IIDEA is seeking increases or changes in shift premium, service awards, sick leave, standby duty, working hours and wages, the employment process, the complaint process, accrual of vacation time, cost-of-living increases and a review of the employee retirement plan, among others. The union seeks a general wage increase of 5 percent for each of the next three years. For certain equipment operators that said are at a disparity, the union seeks 10 percent the first year and 5 percent for each of the next two years.

The IBEW seeks a general wage increase of 5 percent for each of the next three years. For certain equipment operators that are at a disparity in pay, the union seeks 10 percent the first year and 5 percent for each of the next two years. The union also seeks changes in vacation, shift premium and numerous other issues.

In other business, the IID board:

· approved of $25,000 for additional economic and hydrologic modeling associated with the quantification settlement agreement. The vote was 3-1, with board President Stella Mendoza voting "no."

· approved $150,000 for crane rentals.

· authorized staff to advertise, recruit and hire a contract administrator. The pay range is from $5,685 to $7,256 monthly. With benefits it comes to $8,214 to $10,484.

On the informational agenda, the board received an update on a request for proposal to buy 75 megawatts of electricity for up to five years. The intention is to use the time to develop long-range plans for power purchases.

Related to that issue, the board was presented with an offer to sell it 75 megawatts, to be generated adjacent to an IID substation in the Coachella Valley.

The board also heard about an offer by Laguna Hills-based R.W. Beck engineering to perform a study of Valleywide treated water alternatives.

>> Staff Writer Rudy Yniguez can be reached at 337-3440.

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