Home Antioch City of Antioch Public Works Employees Question Lack of Parity on Health Care Contributions

City of Antioch Public Works Employees Question Lack of Parity on Health Care Contributions

by ECT

Antioch—Employees in the Public Works Department for the city of Antioch (all members of Public Employees Union, Local 1) attended the City Council meeting on Tuesday, July 28 to publicly address their concerns over disparate and poor treatment by the City.

Central to these concerns are lack of parity on health care contributions by the City, harmful staffing shortages, lack of meaningful progress in bargaining, and the fact that Public Works employees are currently working without a contract.

The City has a policy requiring preservation of 15% of general funds as reserve. However, for 2015-2016, the actual reserve is 23%—which equates to just over $4 million—above and beyond its own requirement.

For the 2016-2017 fiscal year, the City plans on holding on to another $3 million above and beyond its own policy. In total, according to the City’s budgeted amounts for reserve and ending balances in the Water and Sewer funds, there are $23.8 million available this year and about $17 million available for next year.

“We don’t understand why we are being treated this way. The City has money, has recovered, is giving better deals to other city employee groups. Yet public works personnel are being kept at the bottom of the barrel,” said Mike Davis, Business Agent for Local 1.

Five employees addressed the council Tuesday night.

Joe Carrera: “My colleagues and I took a 10% pay cut for five years as a way to help the City remain operational when economic times were tough. Considering my wife works for the City as well, that meant a 20% reduction in income for our family for the past five years. Now that the City is back on its feet, it makes no sense that the best paid employees in the City get the best health care contribution rates while the people who work in the heat paving the streets have to pay the highest rates for health care.”

Wayne Burgess: “I’ve been a City employee working in the parks for 25 years. I love my job; it’s a good job. But staffing levels were cut by 54% and many people were put on temporary and/or part time status. Yet the workload requirements remained the same, or in many case, increased. The saddest part is the City’s bargaining team has shown no interest in restoring its public works employees.”

Todd Northam: “I work paving, striping, fixing roads. My team and I work in traffic which studies show is the most dangerous job in America. We understand a bankrupt city means everyone loses, so during the hard times, my family and I endured the pay cut, and we cut back. We cut to the bones; I accrued a $20,000 credit card debt trying to survive with the cuts. Now, when the City can afford better, I have no idea why we still have to pay $530 a month for medical coverage.”

Manuel Hicks: “I am raising seven daughters on my own. I pay $530 a month for health coverage. That doesn’t include copays for visits and medicine. That’s a lot of money. That eats into my pocket.”

Jonathan Cordaway: “The city of Antioch is a part of me as I was raised here. I work in water distribution so my team and I tackle any and all water issues in the city at a moment’s notice. We make sure when you turn on the faucet, water flows; we make sure when you flush your toilet, it goes down and nothing flows back up. We sacrificed for the city during the bad times hoping the city would thank us, would rejuvenate us when the city recovered. But we’ve been left behind.”

Davis wrapped up the evening’s comments by saying, “the city’s own two-year budget shows there is more than enough money to make these employees whole, but the city is choosing to hoard money as well as distribute health care contributions unfairly. Restoring these employees and alleviating the crippling health care costs would take only 4%-5% of the city’s available funds. So the question for this evening is, ‘why are we being treated this way?’”

With each successive speaker, more and more of the audience comprised of community members became engaged, understood, and applauded, showing their support for fair treatment of the city employees. Audience members also thanked some of the employees for bringing this awareness to them.

Public Works employees perform vital functions that ensure the city infrastructure keeps working for the residents of Antioch. Their duties include road maintenance, sewer maintenance, water distribution, landscaping, fleet and equipment maintenance and mechanics, and more.

Note – Press Release submitted by Local 1

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Jim Simmons 42 Jul 31, 2015 - 8:03 am

Cry me a river Local 1, they may have the money now but that is because of two taxes passed by voters. In a few years, they are back to being broke.

Reality check Jul 31, 2015 - 8:25 am

Local 1, just stop now, your leadership is the laughing stock of Contra Costa County. You have of the most liberal people on that Council including the mayor. If you cannot get something done, what does that tell you? That you are asking for far more than what is fair which the Council decides. Maybe you can recall the Mayor and council like you did County Supervisors. Oh wait, that failed too.

Marty Fernandez Jul 31, 2015 - 9:57 am

$530 a month for medical coverage. I know families with 2 children who have paid over $1000 a month for their share of insurance and additional co-pays for YEARS City, county, state, federal. All these folks think they are ENTITLED to these things just like welfare recipients are ENTITLED to free what ever. I agree with what Mr Agopian said years ago. Wage freeze until this city gets straightened out and we are a long long way from that. I am beginning to regret being a strong primary writer of Measure O thanks to some of these employees. Its intent was not for general wages but to hire police officers and code enforcement.

ramzla Aug 3, 2015 - 4:04 pm

So keep giving the cops raises and the leader ship raises. .the cops let there code inforcment go over raises …and the council let them stay # 2 in county in pay..they really helped the city..past some more taxes for there raises . keep take money from the water and collections …..wake up…..

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