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The Placer County Board of Supervisors approved an agreement with the Placer Public Employees Organization (PPEO) Tuesday that requires employees to pick up more of their pension costs while providing them with a 2 percent wage hike in 2013, their first general wage increase since 2009.

Board members voted unanimously to approve a Memorandum of Understanding with the PPEO that will remain in effect through December 31, 2013.

The PPEO approved the agreement in July, with 91 percent of the members who cast ballots voting to ratify the new contract. The PPEO represents approximately 1,700 employees, about 75 percent of the county workforce.

Supervisors Jennifer Montgomery, Jim Holmes and Jack Duran thanked the negotiating teams for their hard work.

“Together, we crafted something that everybody can live with, and really will serve the needs of the county and employees as well,” Chairwoman Montgomery said.

“I appreciate the efforts of both county staff and the PPEO leadership in achieving this agreement, and hope it leads to more collaborative efforts in the future,” Supervisor Duran said. “In reviewing the agreement to prepare for today’s board meeting, I could tell both sides put in a tremendous amount of effort and work into crafting this agreement.”

To the board, a key priority was having employees pay larger shares of their pension costs.

That goal is part of an ongoing effort by the board to ensure that the costs of pension, health insurance and other benefits can be sustained over the long term. As part of that effort, the board approved increased cost sharing with employees for pension and health insurance benefits in 2010.

In the MOU, PPEO employees agree to contribute more to pension costs starting on Dec. 15, 2012. PPEO-represented employees will contribute 6 percent more of their paychecks if they are covered by the county’s Miscellaneous Pension Plan and 5 percent more if they are covered by the Safety Plan.

In exchange, Placer County will make equivalent contributions to cafeteria plans for employees. Cafeteria plan funds can be placed in 401(k) plans, used to help defray child care costs or cashed out to help defray the loss of income from paying more of the pension costs.

During a presentation to the board Tuesday, County Principal Management Analyst Therese Leonard noted that employees have helped Placer County successfully handle its budget challenges since 2007 through such actions as taking unpaid furlough days and increasing their share of pension and health insurance costs.

“So, they participated in keeping our county in a very strong fiscal condition,” she said.

Outside of the PPEO membership, new employees hired after March 13, 2011 already make the full pension payments called for in the agreement. In 2011, Placer County created a two-tier pension system that provides less generous benefits to new employees, but helps ensure that benefit obligations can be sustained in the long term.
Under the MOU approved by the board Tuesday, PPEO employees will continue to pay 20 percent of their health insurance premiums. The county picks up the remaining 80 percent.

A 2 percent wage increase for PPEO employees will take effect near the end of the contract term, on Dec. 14, 2013, and be reflected in the first paychecks they receive in 2014.
The MOU also reflects an effort by the negotiating teams to consolidate and update more than 40 years of contract language so it reflects current business practices and employment law. The updated language covers such terms of employment as holiday procedures, overtime cash-out provisions, layoff provisions, probationary terms and procedures, and discipline and grievance procedures.

“I just want to thank both parties for their hard work putting this together,” Supervisor Holmes said.

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