County Prepares to Maintain Essential Services During Potential Labor Strike

Feb. 1, 2019 For Immediate Release

County hopeful fair settlement with AFSCME can still be reached

Redwood City – The County of San Mateo is preparing for employees represented by the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) Local 829 to strike on Feb. 13 and 14, 2019.

During the strike, the County intends to maintain essential services and will implement contingency plans to minimize service disruptions. The County asks for the public’s understanding and patience during this time, while remaining hopeful an agreement can still be reached.

“It is my sincere hope that rather than strike they can come back to the table and continue to negotiate in good faith,” County Manager Mike Callagy said.

AFSCME notified the County of San Mateo that a majority of its membership voted affirmatively to strike. AFSCME declared impasse following more than 25 negotiations meetings since July 2018. The Union informed the County the strike is scheduled for two days on Feb. 13 and Feb. 14, 2019. AFSCME represents 1,706 represented employees across multiple work sites and departments.

“The County’s employees are an essential element in our collective commitment to public service and the County remains committed to fairly compensating our employees for their work. The County’s proposal is generous, fiscally responsible and in line with the agreements reached with other labor groups,” Callagy said.

The County previously reached similar agreements with Service Employees International Union in December 2018 and the Law Enforcement Unit in January 2019.

The County’s most recent offer to AFSCME includes:

  • 9 percent Cost of Living Adjustments (COLA) increases over a three-year term;
  • Immediate additional increases for those classifications substantially behind market and/or experiencing recruitment and retention issues;
  • Significant increases to differentials and special pays;
  • 2 percent in equity increases for all classifications;
  • Increased longevity pay;
  • Increased vacation accruals;
  • Two “Winter Recess” paid days off in 2019 and 2020.

The County has a County-wide retiree health insurance benefit that allows employees to convert unused sick leave to retiree medical insurance premiums at retirement. The County has funded approximately 74.59 percent of the cost of the current benefit, and has an unfunded liability of approximately $101,779,000. Throughout negotiations and up until AFSCME presented their Last, Best and Final (LBF) offer, the union steadfastly proposed a new retiree health package be provided to employees that, as determined by an actuarial study, would cost the County more than $109 million to fund, and which would result in significant immediate unfunded liability for the County. This cost was determined after taking into account the employee contribution proposed by AFSCME to partially fund the benefit. 

The County agreed to assemble a County-wide labor-management committee designated to review the County’s current sick leave conversion benefit, and to recommend financially sustainable modifications to the existing retiree health benefits. AFSCME was encouraged to participate. In their LBF, AFSCME provided a list of conditions under which they would defer their proposal and consider participation on the County-wide committee. AFSCME’s conditions for committee participation were unacceptable to the County. The committee is scheduled to meet Feb. 12, 2019 and the County has maintained its invitation to AFSCME to attend.

The County will inform the media and public of any new developments. A Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) sheet is available with background information. Information and updates will also be posted at news.smcgov.org

For strike-related media inquiries, contact Chief Communications Officer Michelle Durand at mdurand@smcgov.org or (650) 363-4153.

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