City, unions come to temporary agreement on retirement benefits - CBS News 8 - San Diego, CA News Station - KFMB Channel 8

City, unions come to temporary agreement on retirement benefits for new employees

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SAN DIEGO (CNS) - The city of San Diego and its unions have agreed to an interim retirement plan for most new employees, which will go before the City Council next month and end a temporary hiring freeze, city Chief Operating Officer Jay Goldstone said Friday.

The 401(k)-style plan stems from Proposition B, passed by 66 percent of voters in the June 5 election. Since only police officers can now enter the city's pension system, new employees can't be hired until a new retirement plan is adopted by council members.

State labor rules require the city to meet and confer with its unions to implement the provisions of Prop. B. Those talks began near the end of June -- when the city made its initial proposal -- followed by a counter-offer from labor, Goldstone said.

"We went back and forth a little bit," Goldstone said. "Late last week they made a revised proposal to the city that in my opinion only needed a few modifications."

He said the unions accepted his alterations, which mainly involved clarifying the language.

The proposed deal will go to the City Council on Sept. 10, with final approval set for Sept. 24, when the temporary hiring freeze will end, according to Goldstone.

He said city departments are still recruiting prospective new employees and doing background checks, but won't be able to actually make offers until the City Council signs off on the agreement.

When that happens, the provisions will take effect in two stages. Initially, employees will contribute 3.75 percent toward their retirement with a like match from the city, Goldstone said. Once the city is able to re-program its payroll system, the employee contribution will become pre-tax.

He said negotiations were generally positive, echoing a description on Thursday by Frank DeClercq, head of the firefighters union. The unions already have asked when talks can start on a permanent benefits package, he said.

"It's a significant milestone and accomplishment for the city and the labor groups," Goldstone said.

He said the hiring freeze probably won't impact service levels provided by the city, but it might have if it were to stretch past late September.

Implementation of the proposition could still be derailed by legal action by its opponents and administrative action by the state Public Employment Relations Board.

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