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Cost of Tacoma pay raises: $11 million and counting

Post by Kim Bradford on Sep. 28, 2010 at 11:38 am |
September 28, 2010 2:06 pm

An addendum to my post last week about the City of Tacoma figuring the costs of new union contracts: The city got back to me yesterday with more numbers.

These are the contracts that were negotiated last year. It appears it was good to go first: Four bargaining units representing 172 employees negotiated contracts with new salary schedules that boosted pay in many cases an average of 13 percent.

The total cost of pay raises for those four bargaining units: $1 million in 2009 and $1 million again this year. That brings us to a total of nine new contracts covering roughly 700 workers at a cost of $4.9 million through the end of 2010. That’s on top of the additional $6 million the city and its utilities paid to reset the pay of 942 nonunion workers last year.

More pay raises are supposedly on deck. The city and its utilities have yet to settle with six bargaining units representing roughly 1,100 workers – provided City Manager Eric Anderson’s reported pursuit of wage freezes doesn’t preempt those negotiations. We should know more at noon, when Anderson presents his budget to a study session of the city council. The council has an executive session on labor negotiations scheduled after the budget discussion.

UPDATE: Anderson clarified at today’s study session that his proposal for a wage freeze does not preclude bringing the remaining bargaining units to market pay by rejiggering salary scales. He did not say what he expects the costs of outstanding contracts to be.

Anderson also said, in response to a question from Councilman Jake Fey, that his budget proposal for the next two years is predicated on the assumption that he will be able to get all bargaining units to agree to not take a cost-of-living increase even if inflation would have normally dictated one under their current contracts. No word on what the impact to Anderson’s proposed budget would be if he doesn’t secure such understandings.

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