MODESTO -- The Modesto Police Non-Sworn Association, which represents the city's community service officers, police records clerks and other nonsworn public safety employees, has asked for fact-finding in an attempt to resolve its labor dispute with the city.
The process involves convening a three-person panel composed of one person chosen by the city, one chosen by the association and one chosen by both parties. The panel issues a nonbinding opinion after hearing from both parties.
"We're hoping that if we can get an opinion in our favor," MPNSA President Art Miller said, "the City Council or the city manager will look at that and say, 'Maybe we have to do a little more to help these employees out.' "
The MPNSA represents about 60 city employees. The city declared an impasse in negotiations with the union Jan. 4 after about a dozen meetings in nearly a year between negotiators for both sides. The declaration means the city can impose its terms on the union after fact-finding has concluded.
The MPNSA contract expired in September.
Modesto Human Resources Director Joe Lopez said in an email: "The city and MPNSA are currently in the process of selecting a fact-finder. We hope to conclude this matter by the end of March to comply with statutory timelines."
Miller has said the sticking point has been how much of their wages members should pay toward their pensions with the California Public Employees Retirement System.
He said the city wants MPNSA members to pay the full employee contribution of 7 percent. Members now pay 0.4 percent, with the city paying the remaining 6.6 percent in addition to its contribution on behalf of its employees.
Miller said the city would give MPNSA members a 1.5 percent raise in exchange for paying the full 7 percent. He said that would result in a net 5.1 percent pay cut for members, who he said are the city's lowest-paid workers and have not had a raise since 2007. He said the typical MPNSA member earns about $40,000 a year.
In addition to that, Miller said MPNSA members are paying significantly more for health insurance since January 2012, with the typical member paying $1,800 more annually.
In recent years, Modesto has asked its employees to pay more of the cost of their benefits during a time of declining or flat revenues and rising employee costs.
Bee staff writer Kevin Valine can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (209) 578-2316.