SUNNYVALE, Calif., April 24, 2017 /PRNewswire/ -- Citing a pay structure that significantly lagged behind the increases in Silicon Valley's cost of living, a neutral, third party "fact finder", Mr. Barry Winograd, ruled in favor of Sunnyvale Employees Association's (SEA) position for a long-overdue raise. Mr. Winograd is a State of California arbitrator and mediator, who was jointly selected by SEA and the City of Sunnyvale to hear evidence of both sides' positions as part of an effort to break impasse in the contract negotiations process.
"We are pleased that an independent, third-party weighed all the evidence and agreed that Sunnvyale employees deserve a wage that keeps up with the cost of living," said John Simontacchi, President, of SEA. "It's a shame that the City spent hundreds of thousands of taxpayers' dollars on high-priced attorneys only to find out that paying us a sustainable wage is not only the right thing to do, but in line with what other jurisdictions are doing."
The ruling became public just a day prior to the SEA seeking a strike authorization vote from its members. To date, over 80% of SEA members have submitted pledge cards stating that they will vote "YES" to give the SEA president authority to call a strike. SEA members will vote on authorizing a strike tomorrow evening. SEA represents approximately 450 City of Sunnyvale employees.
In his recommendation siding with SEA on a 14% net wage increase, Mr. Winograd stated that the "record shows a historic flattening of bargaining unit wages due to the minimal improvement in net pay over the past several years." Further, Mr. Winograd sided with SEA as it relates to "retroactive pay" or back pay. Winograd opined that the retroactive pay sought by SEA, at 2% a year, was not only budgeted for by the City, but was "less than the cost of living" increases faced by employees. A full copy of Mr. Winograd's report can be found at this link.
"Our members have gone over five years without a net wage increase," Simontacchi said. "At the same time, the cost to rent or own a home in Silicon Valley has exploded, forcing our members, in some cases, to drive over three hours a day just to be able to support their family." "Our City Manager received a personal home loan, virtually interest free, for over $1,000,000," Simontacchi continued. "That's approximately the cost of giving our 450 members a 2% raise. Our City administration's priorities are severely misplaced." This was supported by Mr. Winograd, who noted in his report that the City's wage proposal "also would constitute a penalty for the Association and its members that management employees did not suffer."
The SEA proposed a net wage increase of 14% over five years, compared to the City's proposal of a net 10% over the same time period. Despite publicly posturing about cost, the City told the factfinder that it "did not dispute that it has an ability to pay" for the wage increase. This is because over the last seven years, the City has continuously built up its reserves, and enjoyed record revenue streams, despite gaining repeated pay cuts and concessions from SEA members since 2009. In exposing the City's large cash stockpiles, Mr. Winograd wrote the following, "over the course of the past decade, the city has maintained substantial ending fund balances in excess of budgeted projections."
Both the City and SEA were made aware of Mr. Winograd's ruling prior to today, but the results were held confidentially to allow time for a voluntary agreement to be reached. SEA has declared that it will abide by Mr. Winograd's rulings. Despite the fact that the City prevailed on 7 of the 11 issues submitted to the Factfinder, the City has been unwilling to honor Mr. Winograd's ruling.
SEA represents over 450 employees in areas critical to the City's operation, including the operators of the Water Pollution Control Plant, maintenance and operation of the City's storm-sewer systems, civilian support for police and fire operations as well as building inspectors, and other functions critical to economic development. Other Sunnyvale employee bargaining groups, such as the Sunnyvale Public Safety Officers Association and the Sunnyvale Managers Association have expressed support of SEA's getting a fair contract. Their letters can be accessed here and here.
To view the original version on PR Newswire, visit:http://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/neutral-factfinder-rules-in-favor-of-sunnyvale-employees-on-long-overdue-raise-300444034.html
SOURCE Sunnyvale Employees Association