City signs contracts with 2 percent raise

Agreement includes new health benefits with varying levels of coverage

Posted: Thursday, July 24, 2003

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The city and the union representing about half its employees have reached a contract agreement covering the next two and a half years.

City Manager Rod Swope said the new contracts increase employees' pay by 1.25 percent the first year and by 0.75 percent the second year. The value of the increases total 2.08 percent over the life of the contract, according to a statement released by the city. The new contracts take effect July 1.

Swope said the city's price tag for the new contracts works out to about $250,000 for the first year and about $300,000 for the second year.

The contracts establish a three-tiered health benefits system giving city employees the option of minimal, medium or optimum coverage, Swope said.

"We're moving into a new health-insurance program whereby employees have some choices in terms of level of coverage," he said. "The level of coverage depends on who you are and what your age is and what you think your health risk is."

The contracts cover about 51 percent of all city employees, or about 250 people, all represented by the Marine Engineer's Beneficial Association. Members include employees in classified, general government positions in the departments of finance, engineering, fire and rescue, community development, parks and recreation, public works, management information systems and at the airport.

"After lengthy negotiations and concession on both sides, we believe we have reached a fair and equitable contract," Swope said in a prepared statement. "The city is self-insured, so transition to the new health-benefits system will help contain costs at a time when we're witnessing double-digit inflation in health-benefit costs."

Negotiations over the collective bargaining agreements began in March. The two parties reached a consensus earlier this month after bringing in a federal mediator from the Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service. The union has ratified the contract.

Timothy Inklebarger can be reached at

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