July 2, 2013 > A Message to our Community
A Message to our Community
June 27, 2013
The 4th of July, our nation's summer celebration, always brings thousands of families out to the East Bay Regional Parks. We hope this year is the same for families throughout the East Bay.
We believe it is our obligation to let the community know the East Bay Regional Park District (EBRPD) has been informed that the District is facing a potential employee strike on the 4th and 5th of July by members of AFSCME Local 2428. Such action will undoubtedly impact the quality of service provided to the public on this traditionally busy holiday. This is a very unfortunate situation for all - represented employees, management and Board members alike. The biggest impact, however, will be on the public who has continued to support the District with their funding and their votes throughout EBRPD's 80-year history.
With the safety and security of visitors as the District's top priority, most EBRPD parks will remain open and staffed to the extent possible. Lifeguarded swim facilities and visitor centers, however, may be closed due to staff limitations. Check back to www.ebparks.org for updates as this situation may change.
We will do the best under these circumstances to ensure that our park visitors have a safe and enjoyable experience during this important day of celebration. It is important to note the District's Police and Fire Departments are in a separate bargaining unit and not part of this labor action. District public safety services will remain uninterrupted.
In an effort to resolve this matter, District officials requested mediation after 12 sessions of active negotiation. With the assistance of an independent mediator, the District offered an overall pay increase of 8.5% over a four-year contract; doubling its initial offer. Terms of the mediated contract offer also included the District paying the full increase in medical benefit costs over the four years, expected to be 10-15% per year.
To provide context, the current average total compensation (wages and benefits) for the basic park maintenance worker known as a Park Ranger 2 with a high school education and three years of service is $102,000. Total compensation would increase over 19% under the District's proposed contract.
Under the new California pension law, the state standard for employees is a 50% contribution to their pension costs, or 8% of salary, whichever is less. The current proposal requires employees to pay an additional 4% of their wages towards their retirement costs, which would be phased in over four years for a total of 8% at the end of the contract. The District will continue to pay the full CalPERS mandated employer contribution, which currently is over 22% of the employee's salary.
After two full days of mediation in which the District made significant concessions, the Union leadership cancelled future mediation dates, asked its members to reject the 8.5% raise and full District paid family medical costs valued at $21,000 annually, and authorized a strike on 4th and 5th of July across the District. The District requested the union return to mediation and negotiate; they have agreed to go back to mediation on July 1st. This remains a fluid process and we will do our best to keep the public informed in a timely manner.
EBRPD's Board of Directors takes its responsibility to the public very seriously. Keeping parks open, accessible and safe will continue to be the top priority. With careful consideration for the taxpayers in Alameda and Contra Costa counties, who fund the parks, the elected Board also prudently manages a nearly $100 million operations budget, including continual work toward fully funding over $100 million in unfunded employee post retirement costs. Through prudent and responsible fiscal management, EBRPD did not furlough or lay-off any employees during the recent recession. The Board intends to continue this cautious yet far-sighted approach as it seeks a resolution with the union.
The Board wants AFSCME Local 2428 leadership to resume its commitment to work together with EBRPD management; negotiate in a meaningful, respectful and collaborative way that meets the needs of employees, and fulfills the public's expectation of prudent financial management. Please be assured, we are doing everything we can to provide a fair contract that is also responsible to District taxpayers.
We hope your family has a wonderful 4th of July holiday, and we apologize for any inconveniences you may experience in your regional parks.
Robert E. Doyle