Union Pay Raise – Board Approves Series of Pay Hikes for County’s Biggest Union

Connor Forbes
Connor Forbes
5 Min Read

Union Pay Raise

RIVERSIDE (CNS) – The Board of Supervisors Tuesday approved a three- year, $304.8 million contract with a Riverside County collective bargaining unit representing nearly 9,000 employees in county government, with one supervisor voting against the compact over concerns about thriftless spending.

“I have to vote for the financial stability of this county,” said Supervisor Kevin Jeffries, who cast the sole dissenting vote. “This is unsustainable to me. There’s an argument to be made that we have to do it anyway. But we cannot afford what’s coming. Show me that two years from now, we’re not going to be dipping into reserves or laying off people by the thousand.”

The agreement with Service Employees International Union Local 721 contains a number of concessions granted by the county that board Chairman Chuck Washington didn’t fear would create fiscal peril between now and the time when the compact expires on Jan. 29, 2027.

“We are well-positioned to be able to adjust when we see an economic downturn, which everyone has been predicting for the last three years,” Washington said. “But people are still spending a lot of money. That explains some of the inflation. If times get tight, my position is not to spend us into the red. I wouldn’t predict layoffs. We’re not in the gloom-and-doom today, and it doesn’t look like it’s on the immediate horizon.”

Under the SEIU terms, all union members, whether they’re receiving six- figure salaries or at the lowest rungs of the pay schedule, will receive automatic pay increases, the first one totaling 5% and retroactive to March 21.

Subsequent adjustments will be a 4% raise on May 6, 2025, and a 4% increase on May 6, 2025.

Built into the compact, which was negotiated over a nearly three-month span between union shop stewards and the Department of Human Resources, are additional provisions that provide for automatic hikes related to “callback pay” when a worker is required to get back on the clock after a regular shift, and increases in county contributions to workers’ medical, dental and vision benefits.

There are also concessions specifically tied to case workers in the Children’s Services Division of the Department of Public Social Services. However, one of the contract provisions that Jeffries found objectionable was the creation of an additional county holiday — Juneteenth, or June 19 — which was previously only a state holiday.

Juneteenth recognizes the emancipation of slaves in the United States at the end of the Civil War.

The supervisor said he wouldn’t have opposed the addition if SEIU had agreed to nullify one of the Presidents’ Day holidays in February — county government observes two — to offset the new day off.

Jeffries said each holiday translates to an estimated $7 million in “lost productivity.”

The supervisor also voted against a salary amendment to the 7,900- member Laborers’ International Union of North America Local 777 compact with the county.

Although LIUNA’s four-year collective bargaining agreement doesn’t expire until October, the amendment came before the board as a result of the new SEIU contract, specifically the 5% cost-of-living increase retroactive to March 21.

Under LIUNA’s agreement, the union is to be “granted identical increases” to any pay or related benefit adjustments afforded to SEIU members during the term of LIUNA’s compact.

As a result, LIUNA members will receive a COLA hike equivalent to the one provided SEIU classified employees. The increase will cost the county $8.4 million this fiscal year and $30.11 million in 2024-25, the Executive Office said.

While Jeffries opposed the raise, his four colleagues supported it.

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Union Pay Raise. SEIU Local 721
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