City, labor groups reach tentative agreements to help balance budget

Hundreds of Long Beach city employees will face furloughs, reduced vacation times and increased contribution payments to retirement accounts in exchange for future pay increases and other benefits, as the city’s labor groups reached tentative agreements, Thursday, that will help the city reach a balanced budget before September.

Labor groups, such as the Lifeguard Association and the Long Beach Management Association, voted to ratify the tentative agreements, according to a city press release.

“We thank employees for recognizing the fiscal situation and coming to the table with solutions,” City Manager Tom 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.”

As part of the agreements, some employees will be furloughed for 26 days during Fiscal Year 21, with an alternative option for critical positions on an exception basis. The furloughs represent a one-time 10% pay reduction and will help the city save $11 million, a goal Modica set earlier this month when revealing a budget that faced a $30 million deficit.

In addition to some employees facing furloughs, lifeguard, police and fire management employees will have a vacation accrual reduction equivalent to 40 hours.

A new pension cost-sharing structure requires Classic Public Employees’ Retirement System (PERS) members who are sworn employees to contribute an additional 3% of their salary to help offset the employer portion of pension costs.

These agreements were implemented as the city struggles with economic shortfalls brought upon by the coronavirus pandemic.

In return, multiple employee groups could see general wage increases over the next three to four years ranging from 8% to 8.5%. However, all agreements ratified by employee unions contain a “savings reopened clause” that could allow city management to revisit the contracts if the mayor and City Council declare another economic emergency.

There were some adjustments made to other city labor agreements to improve work-life balance, such as new paid parental leave, an additional paid holiday and short-term and long-term disability insurance, the city said.

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