Though Santa Cruz County representatives made no specific proposals during their single bargaining session with UAPD in May, and none during the most recent meeting on September 6th, the County’s team presented information that strongly suggested that they would seek deep cuts from every union in this round of bargaining. And while the UAPD Bargaining Team had agreed to the County’s unusual request that we come to the bargaining table six full months before the expiration of our contract to hear their gloomy presentation, after that first May meeting, the team opted not to schedule further sessions until this most recent September date.
SEIU 521, which represents the majority of employees in Santa Cruz County Health Services, took a different approach, making quick work of this round of negotiations. They settled their contract in July, well in advance of their expiration date. Unfortunately for those units bargaining in their wake, SEIU seems to have agreed to concessions in key areas, including a less generous pension formula for new hires and reduced retiree health benefits for new hires, current employees, and even current retirees.
While County management may argue that the SEIU agreement sets the course for other units, as its own independent bargaining unit Santa Cruz doctors have the right to negotiate their own language concerning pension, retiree health, current employee health care, and so forth. And while all are aware of the budgetary challenges the county faces, recruiting and retaining qualified civil service doctors is more cost effective than not doing so.
County doctors were sent a copy of the team’s “Sunshine Proposals,” which are summaries of all of the contract proposals to be made by the union in this round of bargaining. The Sunshine Proposals are based on the information provided on bargaining surveys, suggestions made by doctors in other forums, and also the bargaining teams’ knowledge of the contract and the issues doctors face.
In the September 6th bargaining session, both sides made movement on setting the ground rules that will govern bargaining, and UAPD presented it’s information request to the County.