By Bay City News Service
After almost eight months of negotiations, Contra Costa County and representatives of a labor coalition have reached a tentative agreement for a new contract.
Under the agreement, reached Monday between the board and a labor coalition representing some 4,000 county employees, workers would see their pay cut by 2.75 cut instead of the 3.2 percent outlined in what the board had called its "last, best and final offer."
Negotiators reached the agreement Monday evening after four days of bargaining that included a "marathon session on Saturday that went past midnight," county spokeswoman Betsy Burkhart said.
Labor coalition spokesman Rollie Katz said that while the outcome of the talks is far from ideal, union representatives generally agree that it's better than the county's previous proposal.
"It's the best we can do under terrible circumstances," he said. "It's better than what we were facing."
Under the county's previous offer, the unionized workers would have faced an immediate 3.2 percent pay decrease. Now, the 2.75 percent cut will take effect in July.
In addition, the county has agreed to pay two $500 bonuses -- the first in May 2012 and the second in May 2013 -- that should help workers defray out-of-pocket health care costs, Katz said.
The new contract also gives unionized employees three extra paid holidays, he said.
The workers will still be required to pay all increases in health care costs, a major sticking point during negotiations.
The contract needs to be ratified by all five unions that make up the labor coalition. The Board of Supervisors will then vote on the tentative agreement in January.