AFSCME Local 127 Ratifies 1-Year Contract

Members of AFSCME Local 127 have agreed to a one-year contract with the City of San Diego, with 85 percent of voters voting ‘yes’ for ratification.

The negotiating team had a difficult time reaching an agreement with their employer. They began negotiating in October 2019, with the intention of bargaining for a 30 percent wage increase over 3-4 years. On average, San Diego City employees make significantly less than other employees in the region, yet leadership at the City refuses to increase employees’ wages to reflect that of other wages in the region. This time around they used the COVID-19 pandemic as the reason for denying a wage increase. However, prior to the pandemic, City leadership still refused to offer a decent wage increase, proposing a measly 3.05 percent wage increase over 1-2 years. This type of proposal shows the lack of respect that City leadership has for the employees that keep the City running.

Even though the City is experiencing a loss of tax revenue due to the pandemic, the mayor and city council members will still receive a pay increase this year due to Measure L, which was passed in 2018. The mayor’s annual salary is expected to surge from $101,000 to $206,000, while city council members’ salary will grow from $77,000 to $150,000 per year. “Social distancing is one thing, but economic distancing is a reality for AFSCME Local 127 members who will not see an increase in wages, but our mayor and city council members will see a 100 percent salary increase in Dec. 2020,” says Rodney Fowler Sr., President and Chief Steward of AFSCME Local 127.

Although an economic package was off the table, the Local 127 negotiations team still managed to come to an agreement about increasing Flex benefits for employees. Flex benefits for employees who cover their children will increase by $1,744 annually, while employees who cover their spouse/domestic partner will see a $2,584 increase. Employees who cover their spouse/domestic partner and children will receive an increase of $5,544 annually. For employees who cover their spouse/domestic partner, children or the entire family, these increases will translate into take-home pay increases, but for others, they won’t see much of a change in their paycheck, because medical providers are raising their coverage rates. Kaiser’s coverage rate is increasing by 2.2 percent, while Sharp is increasing its rate by 3.8 percent.

With everything else off the table, this was the City’s last, best, and final offer. The Local 127 team felt forced to except this offer; otherwise they would be leaving the negotiating table with nothing. Luckily, this is only a one-year contract, so the team will be returning to the bargaining table later this year. The revised budget for the 2021 fiscal year includes adding new departments and job positions. However, the City’s priority should be investing in our AFSCME Local 127 members that are on the front lines every day.