EID inks new deal with workers

Agreement saves up to $2.85 million through 2013
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El Dorado Irrigation District board of directors approved a four-year memorandum of understanding (MOU) with the district’s employee association on March 29. Provisions in the MOU will achieve between $2.22 million and $2.85 million in savings from 2010 through 2013, according to officials. The MOU was ratified two weeks ago through a vote of employees represented by the association. “I’m satisfied with this agreement,” said board president John Fraser. “During the recent rate increase process, our customers told us we needed to re-examine personnel costs.” Doug Venable, environmental compliance technician and president of the employees’ association, said the association was overwhelmingly in favor of the MOU. “More than 80 percent of the members participated in the vote, and 85.8 percent of them voted for the new contract,” Venable said. “I believe the vote reflects support for the new contract as well as support of the leadership now in place at the district.” EID officials said it was a cooperative effort. “Employees and management have worked for seven months to reach this agreement,” said EID general manager Jim Abercrombie. “We rewrote the previous MOU and updated most of its provisions to be more consistent with current industry practices. The new contract is a good compromise in this recessionary economy as we continue to pay close attention to our financial bottom line and to the well being of our employees.” The MOU changes are: * Increased employee pension contributions. In 2010 and 2011, current employees will pay double the amount they now contribute into the retirement system, and the district will reduce its contribution by an equal dollar amount. In 2012 and 2013, the district will return to the current practice. The overall estimated savings are $1.12 million. In addition, any new employees will pay the higher retirement contribution throughout the 4 years of the MOU. * Stricter requirements for retiree medical benefits. After 10 years (five have to be at EID), new employees will be eligible for just 50 percent of the retiree medical benefit. That figure will increase 5 percent per year after the 10 years, reaching 100 percent only after 20 years of service. Current employees are eligible for 100 percent of the medical benefit when they retire so long as they have five years of service. Current retirees’ medical benefits do not change. * There will be no cost-of-living allowance in 2010. * There will be a wage/salary freeze in 2011. There will be no cost-of-living allowances or merit increases. The estimated overall net savings are $250,000. * If needed to achieve the full projected savings, employees will be furloughed up to 40 hours in 2010 and again in 2011, beginning in July of each year, but only as a last resort, according to officials. The estimated maximum overall savings are $626,000. * No fitness reimbursements. Elimination of the employee fitness reimbursement benefit ($500 per employee per year for proactive health-related expenses related to weight loss, smoking cessation, and exercise programs) at an estimated overall savings of $504,000. * Elimination of overtime meal payments at an estimated overall savings of $255,000. * No biohazard pay. The elimination of the biohazard pay rate (beginning in November 2010) for an estimated overall savings of $95,000. * Labor-management committee. The MOU establishes a labor-management committee to work informally on labor issues as they arise. * The board approved and authorized the signing of a one-year contract between the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation and the district for up to 4,560 acre-feet of water that the district has rights to. The water is taken from Folsom Reservoir. The district is also looking to sign longer-term contracts.