$1,000 bonus in new city contract

Union employees to get money immediately

Posted: Friday, December 29, 2000

An immediate $1,000 bonus is included in a new three-year contract that covers most city government employees.

City officials and an employee union, the Marine Engineers Beneficial Association, announced the deal Thursday.

City Manager Dave Palmer already had been authorized by the Juneau Assembly to sign it, and the union completed ratification Thursday.

The contract affects employees in classified, general government positions in the departments of finance, engineering, fire, community development, parks and recreation, public works, information systems and the airport. Except for the police department, which has its own union, all employees under the supervision of the manager and assembly are covered, Palmer said.

The $1,000 bonus is being paid in lieu of an immediate salary increase. Affected employees haven't seen a raise since July 1999. The bonus doesn't become part of the salary base, so it isn't a recurring expense for the city.

In the next fiscal year, beginning July 1, MEBA members will get a 2 percent salary increase plus a $200 cash payment. In the third year of the contract, there will be a 2.5 percent raise with no bonus.

The deal directly affects the equivalent of 226 full-time employees, or about 300 people, according to Palmer and union business agent Greg O'Claray.

In addition, the assembly traditionally has offered very similar terms to employees who don't have a bargaining unit, Palmer said. There are the equivalent of 160 full-time employees who don't belong to a union, he said.

"We try to make it an equal benefit to the employees," Palmer said. The $1,000 bonus probably will be reduced by whatever unrepresented employees don't have to pay in union dues, he said. The $200 bonus in the second year probably won't be paid to those employees, he said.

The city is raising the cap on what it will pay for employees' health insurance. The cap increases immediately from $530 per employee a month to $560, and goes to $590 for the second and third years of the contract. The cap is set at the projected level for utilization, so employees have some incentive to hold down their health-care costs, Palmer said.

The contract will cost the city an additional $415,800 in the current fiscal year, $442,880 in the second year and $497,000 in the third year, including both MEBA-represented and non-union employees, Palmer said.

The contract was half a year late in coming because of wide differences on the monetary issues, fueled by uncertainty over the proposed property-tax cap that was on the statewide election ballot in November. Voters rejected the tax cap, which would have cost the City and Borough of Juneau an estimated $1.6 million.

Early this month, the city and union brought in a federal mediator who helped them reach agreement.

Bill McAllister can be reached at billm@juneauempire.com.

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