|By Christina Villacorte, Daily News, Los Angeles|
|McClatchy-Tribune Information Services|
The 55,000 members of the
SEIU spurned the county's offer of a 6 percent pay increase over 18 months, saying that would be wiped out by an expected increase in their out-of-pocket healthcare costs starting next year.
"It's a joke," said
She said the union's initial demand was a 12 percent pay increase. Its members, whose median income is about
Another sticking point in the negotiations was the county's refusal to scale back the excessive caseloads of social workers.
"We do not want to strike; however, if that's something we have to do so that we can ensure the safety and well-being of the community in the long run, then it's something we're willing to do," Gonzales said.
County Chief Executive Officer
"Given that we recently exited a major recession, what we're offering now is financially responsible and reasonable," he said.
Fujioka noted each 1 percent pay increase under the proposal would cost the county
He denied claims the county's offer would result in a net loss for the workers. Aside from the 6 percent pay raise, Fujioka said, the county is also willing to cover the "majority" of the increase in health care costs -- if they choose the less expensive medical plans, and if they agree to retiree health care reform for future employees.
"What's on the table is what the county can afford right now," he said. "After that 18-month period, we can reassess the situation."
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