Unable to reach an agreement with the Monrovia Municipal Employees Association union last week, the unilaterally imposed a one-year contract on city employees that will increase their personal pension contributions and alter the way their compensation is determined.
The city has the power to implement one-year contract without the consent of the MMEA, and city officials did just that when the union refused to agree to the deal that called for an increase in their pension contributions and movement toward a pay-for-performance system for annual raises.
City Manager Scott Ochoa said unilaterally imposing a contract was "not ideal" but necessary.
"We desire solid working relationships with all of our employee groups," Ochoa said. "The idea is that if we can have a viable multi-year agreement, that’s what we desire, but we have to be able to implement it at the same time."
While the union did not agree to the city's "last, best, and final offer," it doesn't appear to be fighting it either.
"They can strike, they can sue, they can go to the public employee relations board," City Manager Scott Ochoa said of the union's options. "I don’t anticipate any of those things happening."
Niles Boyer, the President of MMEA, did not return calls requesting comment on this story.
In 2008-09, city employees agreed to pay about 2 percent of their employee contribution to the California Public Employee Retirement System (CalPERS), and the new contract will require them to pick up an additional 2.5 percent. The move will save the city approximately $210,000, according to a staff report prepared by Danielle Tellez, the city's human resources manager.
The employee's portion of the pension cost was covered entirely by the city prior to 2008 under a previous agreement with the union. Ochoa said the city has set a goal of having employees cover the full cost of their contribution by 2014.
The new contract also reinstates merit pay increases for employees but changes the way those are determined. Previously, employees received annual performance evaluations on the anniversary of their hiring date and were eligible for a standardized pay increase based on that evaluation.
Now, evaluations for all employees will be done once a year at the same time to help eliminate subjectivity, Ochoa said.
"Some employees shine more brightly, others fade by the direct comparison," Ochoa said.
Managers will have the discretion to mete out salary increases based on performance or decide to give one-time bonuses instead of salary raises. The goal is to reward exceptional employees and motivate under-performing ones, Ochoa said.
"If you can’t differentiate between the exceptional and the mediocre then you run the risk of building a mediocre organization because you’re rewarding everyone in the same way," Ochoa said.