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A great three point plan for local government employee pay and pension reform

Original post made by Peter Carpenter on Mar 18, 2012

By Bob Cuddy | bcuddy@thetribunenews.com

Pension reforms negotiated over the past several years by San Luis Obispo County and its unions have already saved taxpayers hundreds of thousands of dollars and will save millions more over the long haul, the county's chief labor negotiator told the Board of Supervisors.

In a recent status report on labor relations, Human Resources Director Tami Douglas-Schatz spelled out the steps the county and its employees have taken to minimize the damage the nation's economic woes have done to the county.

During negotiations over the past several years, the county and its employees have been working on what Douglas-Schatz calls a "three-point plan" — second-tier pensions; cost-sharing; and prevailing wage.

Under a two-tier pension plan, new employees receive less generous benefits than those that will be received by former and many current employees.

She added that employees now pay a bigger share of the pension cost increases.

Under prevailing wage negotiations, the county and most of its unions also are making other changes. Previously, there were automatic annual wage increases, she said, with an "obligation to comply regardless of economic conditions." Under the new method, the county's fiscal situation must be part of the negotiations.

There is also work afoot to determine the list of "comparator organizations" — that is, comparing a particular category of county work with similar work being done either in other counties or in the private sector.

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