One contract down, one long-awaited contract to go.
The Turlock Irrigation District Board of Directors completed contract negotiations with the TID Employees Association union on Tuesday, putting an end to a year and a half of negotiations.
“This has been a 19 month process, and it's a reflection largely of the economy,” TID Board of Directors President Michael Frantz said. “These are tough times.”
The TIDEA had been operating without a contract since its previous labor agreement expired Dec. 31 2011. The new agreement will run through Dec. 31 2015.
The agreement will see TIDEA workers receive a 3 percent pay raise on Jan. 1 2014, and a further 3 percent pay raise on Jan. 1 2015. Workers had not seen a pay increase since 2011, when salaries were increased 3.75 percent. Additionally, per the agreement, all TIDEA members will receive a one-time $500 cash payment.
Employees will receive an additional $300 per year in educational assistance funding – $1,500, in total. Second and third shift workers will earn an additional 20 and 30 cents per hour, respectively.
And any TID recruitment efforts will now consider the top four internal candidates, rather than the top three as previously required.
Other contract changes are more favorable to TID. New employees will use a different retirement plan, medical plan copays and out-of-network charges will increase, and all new workers will undergo a 12-month trial period. Bereavement leave for non-immediate family members will be reduced from one day to four hours.
All in all, both sides were pleased with the agreement and the negotiation process, despite its length.
“The employees in this union did a real good job,” TID Director Charles Fernandes said. “They were honest and upfront and negotiated in good faith and I appreciate it.”
The district has been less successful in negotiations with the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, whose TID chapter has also been operating without a contract since December 2011.
The labor dispute resulted in a 45 hour electricity outage for 49 TID customers, from Sep. 28 to 30, 2012. During that weekend outage, TID staff attempted many times to contact line crews, represented by IBEW, to no avail. All 40 qualified TID electric workers did not answer their phones when called for help.
TID then requested assistance from multiple nearby utilities, but their IBEW-represented crews declined to help. Private electric contractors were called to help, but were convinced to leave by IBEW members.
“But a TID employee, a member of the Lineworker’s union, interfered with the job, thus causing the contract crew to leave the site due to concerns by the contract crew of a potential hostile work environment,” TID General Manager Casey Hashimoto said at the time.
A Pacific Gas & Electric crew ultimately repaired the lines.
Since the incident, the two parties have been meeting several times each month as they work to hammer out a contract.
TID and IBEW representatives met again in closed session on Tuesday, but no action was taken on a contract.