City announces tentative deal with Association of Long Beach Employees

The city of Long Beach, which is in labor negotiations with a super-majority of its employees, announced Wednesday that it had reached a tentative agreement with the Association of Long Beach Employees (ALBE), one of 10 unions it’s trying to close a deal with this year.

ALBE represents about 600 city workers including gas field technicians, plumbers and utility workers. Specific details of the tentative agreement were not made public since the association has yet to approve it, but Alex Basquez, the director of human resources for the city said it would be its first because ALBE workers were previously represented by a separate union.

If the deal with ALBE is approved and then ratified by the City Council, which could vote on it as soon as next month, it would leave the city with nine additional labor contracts to complete. Basquez said that when subtracting the city’s firefighters and police officers unions, both of which reached agreements with the city late last year, there are approximately 4,000-5,000 city employees who will be impacted by the labor negotiations.

The tentative deal with ALBE came after nine meetings with the association since September 2019, according to the release. City has projected that upcoming labor deals could cost the city as much as $12 million in the coming fiscal year.

“We are happy to have reached a tentative agreement with the Association of Long Beach Employees, with equitable terms that will ensure fairness and fiscal responsibility,” Mayor Robert Garcia said in a statement. “I want to thank ALBE leadership for their work in reaching this agreement.”

The city announced a new tentative deal with the Long Beach Fire Department in October in which new skill pay and three separate 3% increases would occur during the contract that will last through September 2022. The estimated cost of that deal was projected at about $20.4 million.

A deal struck with the Long Beach Police Officers Association was approved in September in which pay raises ranging between 2.5% to 4% would occur over the life of the contract that runs through April 2022. The new police contract also included a controversial clause that will notify officers when public records requests involving them are submitted.

The ALBE contract is expected to be voted on by members of the association within the next week, according to the release put out by the city. However, there is no projection for when agreements with the other nine city employee entities the city is currently negotiation with might be reached.

“They vary by group and there is no specific timetable,” Basquez said.

The Long Beach Business Journal reported Monday that the Long Beach Association of Engineering Employees, one of those still without a new labor agreement, recently filed an unfair labor practice charge against the city in which it claimed the city was drawing out negotiations to renew its contract that expired last September.

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Jason Ruiz covers City Hall and politics for the Long Beach Post.