The Pierce County Council has approved a contract that will give a group of employees its first cost-of-living wage increase in three years.
The council unanimously ratified a contract calling for a cumulative 2.5 percent wage hike for 23 heavy equipment operators in 2014. The two-year agreement has no cost-of-living adjustment for 2013.
Council members made no comments Tuesday before casting their vote.
It’s the first of eight ratified agreements with the same COLA schedule to reach the council for approval. Contracts for 12 other bargaining units have yet to be completed.
So far, 414 county employees have agreed to contracts for 2013-14 with no COLA this year and a 2.5 percent increase in their base wage in 2014.
The contract for the International Union of Operating Engineers, Local 612 calls for a 1.25 percent raise on Jan. 1, 2014. It will be followed by another 1.25 percent hike in June 2014.
The two taken together represent a 1.88 percent raise when averaged for the calendar year. An employee’s base wage will increase 2.5 percent going forward into 2015.
The negotiated increase is less than the 12-month Puget Sound-area Consumer Price Index of 2.7 percent through June.
County employees last received an annual increase on Jan. 1, 2011.
The county has about 3,000 employees. About 1,600 are represented by unions; the remaining 1,400 are nonrepresented.
The county historically has given nonrepresented employees the same cost-of-living increase awarded to union employees, with the exception of law enforcement unions eligible for arbitration.
If all county employees were to receive the same COLA in 2014, the cost would be $4.2 million, according to the Budget and Finance Department.