By way of a 4-1 vote Tuesday, the Contra Costa County Board of Supervisors voted to increase their salaries by $32,000.
Under the ordinance, each supervisor’s salary will equate to 70 percent of a Contra Costa County Superior Court judge’s pay which is set by the State Legislator. They used a salary study to include: The counties of Alameda, Marin, Napa, San Francisco, San Mateo, Santa Clara, Solano, and Sonoma.
The Supervisors salary now jumps from $97,483 ($8,123.28 per/mo) to $129,216 ($10,768.92 per/mo) annually—a monthly increase is $2,662.72
Over an 8-year period, the Contra Costa County Supervisors have increased their salaries from $58,200 (2006) to $129,216 (2014).
Below is a transcript from the Board of Supervisors Meeting
- Public Comments
- Board of Supervisor Discussion
- Link to previous article with Agenda Item
Jonathan Wright, IFPTE Local 21
I am never going to argue against workers earning a fair wage. I get it, the Bay Area is an extremely expensive place to live with the CPI hovering around 3% annually, housing prices are irrational at best. I myself have been priced out of two cities… meanwhile, county workers struggle to make ends meat. The 4% wage increase this past April will be more than eaten up in January with medical increases and pension contributions. However, in calculating this proposed increase, we are very pleased to see the county has agreed to use the same comparable counties that we have been proposing to you in bargaining for years. San Francisco and San Mateo are far better matches than Sacramento and San Joaquin as well as focusing on urban counties throughout the State. These are accurate comparable and we look forward to using them in our next negotiations. I am serious, thank you, it’s been a long and hard fight to get this county to admit that non-urban, rural, spread-out counties with small budgets are not comparable because fair is fair. After all, what isn’t fair that in less than a month, you are going to be giving yourself a 30% raise, meanwhile, we are wondering where is ours. Fair is fair”
Margaret Hanlon-Gradie, Executive Director of Contra Costa AFL-CIO
We think all workers deserve a raise after four-years of sacrifice without one, including elected civil servants and department heads. We know you more than anyone else know you do work, we are at the same meetings and you work more than a full time job researching and crafting policy, appropriating budget funds, managing services that all Contra Costa relies on. We also will never join the anti-worker, anti-government rhetoric parade. We support quality public services done by fairly compensated public workers and civil servants… fairness and equity is what we are about… But we do have a few concerns about the timing and to a degree the amount of this proposal of this raise. Many workers received just a 4% raise after 10-months of bargaining and 4-years of sacrifices that included hiring freezes, furloughs and cuts to benefits and they are less able to absorb that kind of sacrifice or become whole again with their level of raise. It’s not about denying yours or taking away yours, but how do we get it for everybody? How do we do that? That is the principal that those chairs have to decide on so we also support fair wages for all department. Regarding the timing, we respectfully request you postpone a decision until you reach an agreement with the fire department and firefighters and medical re-opener.
Jenna Biglow, AFSCME Local 2700
I am a clerk for the county and we recently went through negotiations and we did a study and we did the same counties in which the study wad done for you. During those negotiations it was implied that it was not a consideration it was just a matter of the money available. We took pay cuts while you may have not gotten a raise (Mitchoff interrupted noting they all took pay cuts)… leadership is a high responsibility and leaders need to come by the employees and they need to come together so the common goal is met and that is to ensure the public needs are best met. I am hoping that you will look at your leadership and you will lead by example. I am not saying that you shouldn’t get a raise, but what I am saying I hope it will be comparable to the rest of the workers who have a common goal of the people.
Ken Westermann, Contra Costa County Sheriffs Association
As a law enforcement professional we are tough to do the right thing and I’ve tried to place myself in your shoes and come up with an argument as to why I would give myself a 30% pay raise and I’ve struggled to find a legitimate reason for that and I have not been able to find one because I do not think it’s the right thing to do and the timing of it is not right. There is a lot of things that have happened over the last few years in Contra Costa County as you accurately pointed out Supervisor Mitchoff that most of us took pay cuts. Since 2008, we have received very modest pay increases in salary. Moreover, the State of California decided to come in and hijack our pension system and strip away fought for benefits that were often used and always used against us in the salary line. We have historically taken extremely low salaries for a different pension. What your message sends to the employees is that you completely undermined the collective bargaining process. We have bargained in good faith for the raises that we got the modest ones. And you want to give yourself a 30% raise? It’s not right. Take a pay wage to what we have all taken and we have no problem with that. We have no problem with you taking a pay raise; I have no problem with it, you deserve it as does everyone else here. The perception and message you are sending to the workers is just not right and I would ask of your sensibility that you sit amongst yourselves and have a constructive debate about that.
Dan Jamieson, SEIU 1021
When I woke up this morning it was odd because it seems like the austerity protesters and the media were on the same page as the unions today and that is pretty historic. What I have gotten from my people is it rubs them the wrong way because they are looking to you for leadership. They have sacrificed and held the line. When I was making comments about the closing of our negotiations, I said it wasn’t the end of the negations it was the beginning of a partnership and that is precociously that because we are not finished yet and solved all our problems. Six months we are going back to solve health care and we are hoping for a big fix on that so until that problem is resolved, we are saying well, lead by example and hold the line, it will be better for everyone and we can all move forward together.
Cynthia O’Brien, worker at Contra Costa Regional Center, Member of Local 1
It’s not a fair practice, we have worked hard. I love my job, I want to be here for years. But fair is fair, it’s time for all of us to share. I agree you need a pay raise, but so do we.
Gayle Walls Burns, ASME 512
I can say that in all my years I have never been as disgusted and outraged as I am at the arrogance of David Twa and the Board of Supervisors as I am at this time. But I am not surprised. I am sure that as soon as the time is up and the comments are made you guys will as usual will say thank you for your comment but this is why we are going to approve this wage increase. And I am sure that part of the reason will be that you are so poorly paid and cite the hard work that you do for the county. Funny, these are the same things we cite when you told us our efforts were only worth 4% after receiving almost a 3% degrees in years prior. For good measure, to show how much we are appreciated we get to an increase in our medical and retirement contributions. Almost as soon as the contract negotiations were over the Board of Supervisors was asked for direction as to whether or not they would like the county administrator to bring back the proposed Ordinance to change and adjust the Board of Supervisor salaries. They whole wholeheartedly agreed to the consideration. I guess I cannot fault them because if I was asked if I would like my salary adjusted by 70% i would say yes too. The last time you were asked to give yourself a wage increase your reasoning was the Board of Supervisors of the Bay Area made more than you did. At that time, you ended up with a 60% increase. Please know that I am not against folks getting a wage increase, but I am curious how the job parallels to California State Superior Judges. I am positive that they are more like positions where the comparison could have been made.
Phillip Hu, Public Employees Union Local 1
I am here today because I am extremely troubled you are about to vote yourselves a 33% pay increase when pay studies show your employees are underpaid from 16-to38%, instead you are choosing to enrich yourselves before your county employees. One of you was quoted recently on CBS News saying we lead by example, now is not the time for the board to give a raise beyond what is being offered to employees. Supervisor Andersen, you clearly understand your role as an elected official which is to set the example and put the public interest and your workers who serve the public first. And for that, we at Local 1 thank you on your no vote last week we hope you continue to vote no. One of you spent two decades working at DOW Chemical working on training for safety issues; you know how dangerous some of these jobs county employees perform are. Federal Glover, you should know better. One of you is married to a firefighter, a fellow public servant dedicated with heart. Mary Piepho, you should know better. One of you the very first time we met you introduced yourself as an old progressive with progressive values. How is enriching yourself first of progressive values? John Gioia, you should know better. One of you used to be an employee of this county, you benefited from that service and that job, this feels like you have forgotten where you came from. Karen Mitchoff, you should know better. You should do better. Your employees behind me sure as hell deserve better.
Joanny Copeland, AFSCME Local 2700
I feel like our 4% raise was a slap in the face, like we deserve more. I am not saying you don’t deserve a raise, but so do we. I am a single mom with two-children. There are people losing their homes. There are parents moving in with their children, children are moving back to their parents, there are people getting second jobs and having to do payday advances loans, personal loans with enormous interest. We are not making it and you are saying you do not get paid like the other people. Well we are the lowest clerks paid in the state of California and it’s not right. All we are asking for is that before you give yourself a raise please look at where we are. We deserve it.
Alex Aliferis, Contra Costa Taxpayers Association
The current report leaves out facts regarding this 33% salary increase. If you pass this increase, did you know that the Contra Costa County Board of Supervisors will be the second highest paid supervisors in the Bay area counties—higher than San Francisco, higher than San Mateo or Alameda County. (Mitchoff interjects saying not higher than Alameda County). San Francisco County Supervisors are paid at $110k, there was an article dating May 20, 2014 (SF Chronicle) stating the Supervisors gave themselves a 2% pay increase. Don’t you think the Board will set a poor example if you pass this? What will taxpayers think about this 33% salary increase when they find out about this? Did you know taxpayers in Arizona actually vote for or against salary increase for elected officials. I urge you to table this item.
Vito Impastato, Professional Firefighters of Contra Costa, Local1230
The 400 plus members that I represent in Local1230 support pay raise and support your pay raises, a few here will not smile about it but they we will support it because we recognize the importance of a fair wage whether you are a custodian, firefighter, deputy sheriff, or an elected. We also recognize how important it is to have salary surveys to see what other people are making. More importantly, we recognize the importance of having some type of formula to say this is how we are going to operate things instead of being at the table like we are now having to fight about this kind of stuff. We are in the same boat you are in, we haven’t seen raises since 2007 and we feel like we are still stalled out in negotiations. I just want to say firefighters are looking for speedy and fair negotiations and rebuild our department and get to the same level of wage you are all trying to get to.
Christine Hernandez, Probation Officer for County
I have been working here for 12 years and looking at my paycheck, its less now than it was when I started and I think it’s ridiculous you are taking a 30% raise when we haven’t taken one in years. We have taken on new jobs, we have a unit that is armed, supervising parolees, we are taking on jobs we never used to do. We are supervising new people. Our case loads are enormous. You think you deserve it, I think I deserve it too. I hope when we go back to negotiations next year you consider that.
Board of Supervisor Discussion
Supervisor Candace Andersen
I think 30-33% is too much, I think a raise of this magnitude is not acceptable to the public and certainly not to our public employees and I am going to reiterate we really need to lead by example. We should not be using the counties that we are telling the employees they cannot use. We can’t use Alameda County, we can’t use Santa Clara County because our budgets do not match up. For us to use it now seems very disingenuous.
I would like to offer an alternative to what is being proposed today and that would be we phase in any raise that is agreed to. If we are to look at a 3-4% increase we add a 2% COLA and in 5-to-6 years we will be at the rate you are looking at. 33% is just too much.
Supervisor Karen Mitchoff said she did not hear a second, the motion dies.
(Salary Survey: Click to enlarge)
Supervisor John Gioia, stated he appreciates all the hard work of the county employees. We know that over the last number of the years that everyone in the county from Board to employees took wage cuts to help this county get through a very difficult situation. We also know that in the recent round of negotiations that we were able to provide for the first time raises and we are still in negotiations with some bargaining units such as fire—we understand their sacrifices. We gave raises to employees realizing they helped us get through.
Let me just say this is one of the most unpleasant. Anytime a salary increase comes to us for ourselves this is one of the most unpleasant tasks we have to face. I wish the legislator didn’t change the law or the initiative in 1970 where the people gave the ability for supervisors to raise their own salary. Not sure of the history behind that but prior to that the legislator was responsible for county salaries and the people of the state of California voted to give that power to us. Over time, what a number of counties have tried to do was link it to a percentage of Superior Court Judges to take it out of their hands and that was the genesis of looking at this.
What do we do so in the future we do not have to put in the position of voting for our own salary. I wish we had done that last time when the increase was in the end of 2006 when we voted. It took effect in early 2007. The idea was to look at various counties.
Let me say I agree with the employees that sometimes the county comparisons are not always the right counties. I agree with you which is why we looked at Bay Area Counties and Urban Counties. The idea was to say where we fall in that category and not to set it above the median above any of these other counties and to make a change once and then to be done with that change and not touch it anymore.
We can do as phasing it in, or make the change and move forward and that was the discussion at the last meeting (Gioia then ran off numbers in the chart). It’s a difficult choice and anything we do today we do today whether its 4% or linking to judges at 70% will be perceived by the public as more than what this board deserves.
I for one wish we take this out of our hand, I think the Boards discussion last week was set it somewhere in the median range and not deal with it any further and knowing over time judges salaries haven’t particularly gone up a lot over the last number of years and leave it to the hands of the legislator who would then decide what our salaries would be.
Not a pleasant thing to do but going forward it takes us out of the picture as opposed to coming back. I don’t need to tell you that we understand that your salaries in some areas and pay equity studies need to be adjusted which is why there has been process and discussions to do that. We are committed to looking at the healthcare re-opener in 2015 which was part of the bargaining with our units this year because we understand. We have taken the same changes on healthcare as the employees. We have taken the same changes on pensions as employees. I know this is not a popular thing, but this is the reason for doing this so I wanted to explain this and put it out there knowing any increase is unpopular.
Supervisor Mary Piepho questioned the Department Head Classifications and salary to clarify that the Board of Supervisors pay would still be below Department heads.
David Twa explained that even with the increase, supervisors pay would be significantly lower than the department heads. Bottom line, most of the department heads make on average between $150,000 to $200,000. There are a couple who are lower on positions.
“So where does the Board of Supervisors sit currently on that chart?” asked Piepho.
“Currently you are at the bottom of course at $97,000 with the next lowest being the County Veteran Services Officer at $100,000,” Twa responded.
“With the proposal before us, where would that put the Board of Supervisor Salaries?” asked Piepho.
“Basically, you would still be at the bottom and above the Veteran Service Officer,” said Twa.
(Dept. Head Classification Salary: Click to enlarge)
Supervisor Mitchoff pointed out that although there is some wonderful work being done by the Veterans Services only has six employees.
“So we would be second to the bottom under this proposal if this proposal moved forward,” stated Piepho.
Piepho then asked who the third lowest would be which Twa shared it would be the Agricultural Commissioner-Dir at $140,641—nearly $10,000 more than Supervisors proposal.
Supervisor Federal Glover
Our responsibility is to lead and one of the things that prior boards has not done is to lead on this issue. We have allowed that because there are naysayers in terms of any type of raise that we would not do anything and its put us so far behind that it’s time for leadership, it’s time to make tough decisions.
We make tough decisions every day, but when it has come to this we have avoided really trying to make tough decisions and make and take on leadership role like we have to. It’s unfortunate that we are in a position where we have been in control of our own salaries. I don’t like this, it’s not comfortable but it’s necessarily to make sure that we have found a way to levy this so that it is not in our hands, but we can do the comparison to the judges like some of the other Bay Area counties are doing.
I think that just listening to the analogy in terms of where we are in terms of department heads and where we will continue to be when we look at the other comparable counties, we are still behind. We are not asking to come all the way up (crowd interrupts—Supervisor Mitchoff asks crowd to be respectful).
This board has vowed to work to get all wages where they should be. But at the same time I want to be responsible. We have a leadership role for the next board, and you will make those determinations as to whether or not this was the right move or not.
The bottom line whether you like it or not is we cannot continue to kick the can down the road and not deal with this issue. It’s time to take action on this issue and I think the action before us allows us to position ourselves to where it’s not in our hands anymore but will have it based on what is done with the judges and the legislator (70% of pay)… I’ve been here 15-years now and the can has been kicked down the road over and over again. It is time to take a stand so that we are not involved in this type of discussion where we have to make these determinations and makes our jobs that much more difficult because I will tell you that we will always who say we do not deserve it.
Mitchoff pointed out for the record is the majority of our employees in their MOU received a 4% raise and another 3% will go into effect on July 2015 and that was also in addition to $1,500 given ($750 this year, $750 next year). Additional payments made to majority of bargaining units.
Board voted 4-1 (Andersen voted no)
For information on the Staff Report, see information posted on October 28, 2014.